Triple helping of rock heaven

Wishbone Ash, The Groundhogs and Focus,The Regent, Ipswich, last nightSUFFOLK promoter John Hessenthaler's Classic Legends of Rock tour delivered a triple treat in troubled times to an appreciative 600-strong audience in Ipswich last night.

Wishbone Ash, The Groundhogs and Focus,

The Regent, Ipswich, last night

SUFFOLK promoter John Hessenthaler's Classic Legends of Rock tour delivered a triple treat in troubled times to an appreciative 600-strong audience in Ipswich last night.

The Groundhogs, Wishbone Ash and Dutch masters Focus rolled back the years in majestic style - each band playing a classic set of vintage songs - the music forming a bridge between the carefree days of the 70's and today.

Legendary axeman Tony “TS” McPhee started the evening in rip-roaring style, warming the crowd with favourites from the much-loved Thank Christ for the Bomb and Split albums.

Lincolnshire-born McPhee, 54, who first came to Ipswich in the 1960s when The Groundhogs backed the blues maestro John Lee Hooker at the Manor Ballroom, showed he has lost none of the guitar prowess which brought him fans across the world. His voice is holding up pretty well too.

Most Read

My favourite from the set was Natches Grave, a track which showed the Groundhogs blues-to-rock pedigree.

In those faraway days, The Groundhogs recorded some of the most powerful rock of the era - and powerhouse was the watchword for McPhee's efforts last night.

Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash kept up the style and quality of the evening with a memorable performance.

Bassist Turner, backed brilliantly by guitarists Ray Hatfield and Danny Wilson, just got better and better after the moving opening, The King Will Come. Highlights included The Warrior and the evergreen Blowin' Free.

Holland's most successful rock act, Focus, who were in Ipswich with Wishbone a year ago, brought the evening to a crescendo.

Keyboards and flute maestro, Thijs Van Leer, still dominates the group - and they sound every bit as good as they did when they took the pop charts by storm.

Guitarist Jan Akkerman is long gone but Niels van der Steenhoven didn't play a wrong note in an exquisite set.

Focus music can take you from pounding rock anthems at one minute to tear-filled folksy moments the next - an example of this being a 12-minute version of Eruption.

A memorable evening all round - and a real tonic as winter approaches.

Nigel Pickover

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter