Gig Review: Wishbone Ash / The Jokers – Queens Hall, Edinburgh (28th October 2022)

So here we are back at one of my favourite venues in Edinburgh, the Queens Hall, for Wishbone Ash playing the classic album Argus in its entirety for its 50th Anniversary. We have the support to enjoy first in the form of The Jokers from the North West of England, a band I have seen several times before. They always deliver and tonight’s no exception.

The Jokers (c) Gary Cooper

The boys are touring promoting their upcoming album Rock and Roll Bones which is out on the 4th of November. They open with the rocking “You’re Gone” from said album which bodes well for the release. We get a couple from their 2013 album Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Alive with the pulsing rocker “Dr Rock Head” and the full on rocker “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Alive”. You may sense a vague “rock” theme with The Jokers…

We have some classic drum driven rock with new track “Slapback” before a triple blast from 2015’s Hurricane with “Run 4 Cover”, power ballad “Angel” and the riff-tastic “Salvation”. The band show us their AC/DC groove with another new one, “Rock and Roll Bones”, before a tasty cover of The Who’s “Pinball Wizard”. They and a (what else?) rocking set tonight with “Night Driver” and one of my favourite tracks, “Silver City”.

This is proper rock n’ roll from a bunch of boys loving what they do and they do it very well. Wayne Parry has a fantastic classic rock voice with hints of early Glenn Hughes meets Paul Rodgers. Tom Crane bounced about with his Steinberger bass. Paul Brough picks up the rear on the drums and then there is Paul Hurst, guitarist extraordinaire, who never stands still. Running about, headbanging, leaping in the air, laying waste to his Gibson Les Paul and getting the crowd going – even jumping in to join them a few times. If you like proper rock n’ roll then this is the band for you. Catch them live when you can and get the new album when it comes out.

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Next up is the main event as Wishbone Ash celebrate the album that took them to a different level 50(!) years ago, the epic Argus. We have a few other songs to get out of the way first, though, as the band warm up the audience. Wishbone Ash get “In the Skin” from 1987’s Nouveau Calls, a fantastic free flowing instrumental with Andy and Mark in fine form on guitar. Mark shows off some tasty slide pieces steel guitar style, and we have a couple next from Coat of Arms. “We Stand as One” is dedicated to the people of Ukraine, and the title track “Coat of Arms”.

Wishbone Ash (c) Gary Cooper

We go back to 1973 with a couple from Wishbone Four as we meet the “Rock ‘n Roll Widow” and hear about the “Ballad of the Beacon” featuring some tasty bass lines from the fabulous Bob Skeat. Up next is the rocking “Standing in the Rain” from one of my favourite albums, Strange Affair, with some fabulous guitar riffs.

We now get the fabulous Argus in full and in order, starting with “Time Was”. As I look around I can see the crowd all singing along, fairly quietly to themselves so as not to interfere with the mellow guitar notes and Andy’s singing. The album highlights for me tonight were “Blowin’ Free”, as it’s just a guitar-driven free-flowing masterpiece with superb vocals, and the awesome “Warrior” which gave me goosebumps.

We can’t forget “The King Will Come” with its unforgettable drum and guitar intro. Just stunning, as was the whole album played tonight. Truly a “had to be there” moment.

As the sounds of Argus sadly drift away the band end the set with one from There’s The Rub with “F*U*B*B”, a track with a Mean Streets of New York meets The Warriors feel. After a short time and much shouting and stamping feet from the crowd, the band reemerge and head right back in time for the stunning “Jail Bait” with its rocking Doors-like vibe. This is a fabulous way to end a truly incredible night of classic rock music.

This was one of those must-see gigs with a band truly on top form and enjoying themselves. There was fabulous interaction with Andy and Mark on guitar, Bob the always smiling-beating heart of the band strolling about on bass, and Mark keeping the rhythm running through the evening. There were a lot of smiling faces heading home at the end of the evening tonight – including yours truly! Until next time, guys…

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Photos by Gary Cooper

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