Pauline’s Chronicles from the Road
Today is the fourth free day so far in this UK Tour. With 14 shows played and 17 more to go everyone feels the need to relax. You know the kind of relaxing - the one that involves washing clothes, paying bills and sorting receipts into an organized form rather than a pile of little pieces of paper!
Wishbone have been playing to packed houses since the first show in Canterbury and the momentum is tremendous. The Canterbury show, at Gulbenkian Halls, was a new one for the band. A great venue that had the misfortune of having the Funny Bunny Stand- up Comedy Show in the foyer of the building. Hosted by one Olly Double, yes, that was his real name, those of us selling merch in the foyer had the honor of listening to this former comedian do his utmost to make fun of a band that was celebrating 50 years - namely that it could not possibly be a true anniversary since only one member was still actively performing. That’s true - with 5 drummers, 6 full time bass players, 9 guitar partners in 50 years there has only been 1 Andy Powell. So yes, Mr Double it is appropriate to celebrate and that’s No Joke 😜 As we all know however, Wishbone Ash is more than a collection of musicians- it is a family on a musical mission and this tour is a family celebration every night.
That said however, we do live in a time where free speech is still possible, so I have to applaud Olly for getting out there and not worrying about being offensive. Laughter after all is good for the soul. It’s a necessary reliever of stress and we all live with that on a daily basis.
Being here in the UK with the tensions of Brexit and coming from a troubled US, it’s not always easy to be lighthearted and keep quiet about your own thoughts and feelings - you are never going to please everyone and neither should you try. There was a fascinating news report yesterday with Roger Waters eloquently talking about his feelings, his very strong feelings, about Julian Assange. I’m sure many of his fans disagreed with his opinion, but he stood firm on his convictions- good for him. Can politics and music live as companions? Who knows?
Which brings me nicely to another show- The London performance at the O2 Centre in Islington. This was the venue where the band were to showcase the upcoming single release from SPV/ Steamhammer Records. We Stand as One, a song from the soon to be released CD Coat of Arms, and which was filmed as an album teaser - a protest song. It may ruffle a few sensitive feathers, but it will certainly make you sit up and take notice. It’s an awesome new piece of music and has now been added to the set each night.
While most of us feel that we are going round in circles on a daily basis, Mark actually did manage to turn quite a few circles during filming and without getting caught up in his guitar cord or falling over. An afternoon of full on rehearsals, plus a two hour set to over 700 eager fans was exhausting but exhilarating- and so the tour has continued in this way.
Every night fans are treated to a full 2 hour set that covers every decade of Wishbone Ash music. Fans often ask what the set list is, but that’s impossible to predict since various songs are being swapped each night. Old favorites have been mixed in with Enigma one night or Blind Eye the next. Every show is being highlighted by a visual depiction of each song as well as a collage collection of the band members across the years. I’m currently loving the visuals for The Pilgrim but would love to hear what others like.
As always, friends and family come to shows and it’s a rare treat to see everyone and to catch up briefly on news we may have missed on our travels. It was particularly special for Andy and I to meet again with Heather, former partner of Steve Upton, who we were so close to in the early days of Wishbone. She has led a fascinating life since leaving the Wishbone family and it was great to share stories. Heather missed seeing Russell Sidelsky by a few days unfortunately. Russell was tour manager for the band and moved to Connecticut with us all in the 70’s. He and his wife Woody have remained firm friends of ours but he had not seen the band perform in many years. Our paths crossed serendipitously as we all converged on Tewkesbury. Sometimes the stars just align perfectly. Last night we met up with Stevo Glendinning who works Miles Copeland and we saw Dave Sullivan former Iron Maiden guitar player in Dorking.
I’m always amazed at the distances fans of the band travel to see a show. This year we have seen fans catch a flight from Beirut for the London show and also uber fan Ana from Brazil came to Dorking and was thrilled to meet Andy. No doubt AshCon will once again see fans coming from far and wide.
Of course it’s almost impossible for a tour to run smoothly without an occasional hitch. Yesterday, for example our departure from the building was delayed due to some knife wielding bloke being restrained by security until the police arrived. The day before that our departure was delayed due to an axe wielding guitarist losing his car keys !!! Other days the mere act of getting out of bed holds us up. But rest assured come hell or high water Wishbone will always be on time for the next show.
For us that is Swindon - when will your next show be?
Best - Pauline