Photos (c) Matthew Fessey
It became clear that people had come to re-live their youth rather than see live versions of the new work
I’d describe by admiration for Ash as a more of a ‘curl up by the fire with’ rather than a new found explosion of passion and excitement but it certainly runs deep none the less. Going to see them after all this time I was half expecting to find a bunch of matured awkward nineties kids in attendance.
As the second warm up act finished there was a respectable shout of “That was really good!” and a profuse apology from the chap in front of me for stepping on my foot. Those inhabiting the back of the group were certainly in the social ilk of post mortgage citizens but the front row had more of a mix befitting the supposedly anarchic Bierkeller which feels like a slightly small venue for Ash. However, people seem delighted by the intimacy and opportunity to get so close without being squished.
First night of the tour and sold out; they are greeted with a polite “hello” before breaking into ‘Go! Fight! Win!’ from their new album ‘Kablammo’. The crowd were moving, albeit with a sense of not really knowing the track.
As ‘Life Less Ordinary’ starts, bodies bounce with chirpy nostalgia; images of Oasis haired Ewan McGregor with flapping cuffs undoubtedly spawning in their minds. You can clearly see a smile curling around Tim’s face from the reaction. Moving onto the 1977 classic that is ‘Goldfinger’; most opt to sing the words loudly rather than mosh but it’s clear from the stage that Ash have lost none of their energy and the track is delivered with the same ferocity and energy even after twenty years.
Always the fresh and genuine frontman, Tim engages in playful, affable interactions with the audience throughout the set; he later assures us that there is a sex doll for sale behind the bar whilst also expressing his surprise at the lack of heckles from the overtly polite gathering. As a unit they still wield an undoubtable impact, with Mark pulling off some impressive moves and sweating balls from an early stage.
Whether ‘Kablammo’ will have the same rejuvenating effect on their popularity that ‘Free all Angels’ did back in 2001 remains to be seen. Tracks like ‘Cacoon’, ‘Machinary’ and ‘Free’ are all met with gratitude by those who came but as the evening progressed it became clear that people had come to re-live their youth rather than see live versions of the new work; as the renditions of ‘Oh Yeah’ and ‘Angel Interceptor,’ the band drop out as lyrics are recited word perfect by lifelong fans. Whilst ‘Girl from Mars’ and ‘Kung F’u ignited collective joy in abundance with their playful and fun execution from three musicians lapping up the responses.
The encore saw them pay homage to their influences with a fierce cover of’ Teenage Kicks’ by The Undertones; Tim’s flying V couldn’t have looked less out of place at this moment and he most certainly brandishes it with confident authority. Finishing with ‘Burn Baby Burn’… of course; this was the absolute crest of the wave and created a tangible tingle in the room. Head bobbing a plenty and a pleasant icing on a consistent performance.
Check out ‘Machinery’ right here: