19th October | SWX
Photos: Michael Brumby
Ash wasted no time as they arrived on stage at SWX with a full-blast rendition of ‘Kung-Fu’ tail-ended by excessive wah-wah pedal flapping and strangulation of the fret board. Tim Wheeler had arrived with his trusty Flying V guitar and, despite the long period between the previous album and the current one, they seemed to be taking proceedings well in their stride. The crowd was populated by quite a cross-section, with many who’d discovered the band from their debut LP 1977.
They could be seen enjoying their trip down memory lane as they mouthed the lyrics from a safe distance. Those herding forward into the front section looked more likely to have picked up the band during one of their several renewals, but whatever the track, they seemed to react with the same energy and enthusiasm as rather than moshing, they hopped with a cheery bounce.
Ash played a large batch of tracks off the first album, but by no means delved into a nostalgia-fest. The set was an assortment from their discography with the exception of Nu-Clear Sounds from which they only performed ‘Jesus Says’; here Tim referred to the album as ‘Jesus Says’ possibly to see if anyone noticed. Given how badly it was received, it’s good to see that they have a sense of humour about it.
While performing the track ‘Annabel’ from the new album, Islands, you could see his look of concentration as he gazed into the audience for their reaction. This was very much in contrast to ‘Oh Yeah’ which followed, as he loosened up immensely, wandering the stage and walking up to the crowd for the stratospheric solo, which they lapped up like it was feeding time.
‘Confessions from the Pool’ (another from Islands) was a real highlight and a reminder of what keeps Ash feeling so fresh. The songwriting of the track is immaculate and releases into its chorus with such elation. It played more as a disco-punk tune you’d associate with the likes of The Rapture but still had that 1950s rock n roll ‘shoot from the hip’ which the band do so well with most of their songs, whether they dip into metal, punk or riff-based rock. As the high-hat fluttered away, we were all hand-clapping along and I’d imagine a good many of the 90s faithfuls were won over.
The gig seemed to fly by as they rattled from one foot-stomper to the next, with the only crack in the paintwork being ‘Shining Light’, played with great precision and energy, but Tim Wheeler looked thoroughly bored until he got to the solo. They closed with ‘Lose Control’ having earlier given us a few bars of the Star Wars kitchen tune and as the TIE fighter sample screamed and they tore into the song many associate with discovering them, it was the perfect way to end the evening.