Wishbone Ash: Legends of Rock Review

The Concert

Let's not beat about the bush here; this is a truly appalling DVD. Wishbone Ash have the dubious distinction of being even worse than most of the appalling amateurs who indulged in 10-minute guitar solos in the name of 'rock music', and this DVD showcases them in all their ghastliness, complete with appalling 1980s hairdos and lighting effects. Before I move on to a demolition, sorry review, of the concert itself, I'd just like to recommend that you don't under any circumstances consider buying this DVD.

Wishbone Ash are, if you believe the blurb, 'world famous for their clever dual lead guitar work'. In terms of hyperbole, that's something along the lines of saying that the Beatles were 'world famous for having a drummer who sang once in a while', or that David Bowie 'was world famous for once writing a song about Mars while high on drugs'. Unfortunately, while Bowie and the Beatles had talent in abundance, Wishbone Ash do not. To be honest, I have heard bands in pubs that are better than the cacophony that is here passed off as 'music', with a great deal more stage presence than any of the 3 lead singers here (another similarity with the Beatles, perhaps, but more likely a failed attempt to share the blame between one another, on the grounds that they could all claim mutual incompetence with some accuracy).

The set itself lasts for around 60 minutes, which is something of a relief, as it is sufficiently awful to have you contemplating throwing the DVD out of the window 5 minutes in, when the first notes of the appalling 'Living Proof' are struck with the kind of reverence that is normally reserved for Beethoven's Fifth, albeit Beethoven's Fifth played by a group of chimpanzees who had just managed to discover a long-lost cache of electric guitars in the jungle along with sheet music. I'm inclined to believe that they'd be a better rock group than Wishbone Ash, as at least they wouldn't engage in horribly sycophantic banter with the audience in between songs; typical example, 'Are you having a good time?' (Doesn't wait for answer) 'We're having a good time!' (Doesn't wait for answer) etc.

It's actually quite wearying to have to think of things to say about this appalling waste of time. By the time that the 15-minute rendition of 'Pheonix', as the box misspells it, begins, I was wondering why on earth I had ever agreed to review this disc in the first place, and I can happily say 'Come back the Barren Knights! All is forgiven!!!!'

Set list
On the grounds that someone might, conceivably, care:
Can't fight love (or a DVD this poor, for that matter)
Living proof (that Wishbone Ash have precisely no talent)
Open Road (or, what we'll be on after the concert finishes)
No more lonely nights (we've got groupies, y'know!!!)
Underground (where we are now)
King will come (shame the bailiffs won't)
Phoenix (Wishbone Ash's career won't imitate the bird, that's for sure)
Engine Overheat (should have got a better tour bus)

The Picture

An appalling concert is well served by an equally appalling transfer. The picture is video-standard 4:3, with a very soft transfer, some print damage, and it's almost impossible to see what's going on when Wishbone Ash decide to darken the stage. Of course, this might well be a blessing, depending on your point of view, as it means less view of the horrible mullet hairstyles that the band are sporting. My initial impression of the DVD was that it looked as if a misguided fan had camcordered it, and that's a pretty accurate description of what the picture is like.

The Sound

When the sound is merely indistinct, muddy and tinny, you know that it's the best thing on the disc by a long way, and so it proves. To be fair, it's not at all bad for a 17-year old concert, although it's nowhere near CD quality, sounding more like a tape recording, complete with intrusive sounds of coughing, laughing etc from the crowd. However, it at least approaches competence, which is more than anything else on the disc does.

The extras

A few pages of text informing you that Wishbone Ash was a 'seminal rock band', and a listing of their discography. Therefore, nothing of any interest at all.


To be honest, I can't think of many ways in which a DVD could be worse. Even if you were a Wishbone Ash fan, you'd still be disappointed by the appalling picture and poor sound quality, and the utterly dire nature of the concert itself is enough to put off any would-be purchaser. Do not buy this disc, do not rent this disc, do not do anything that would bring you into any kind of intimacy with this disc. Life is too short.

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