Set lists, reviews, show notes and photos
Portsmouth Pyramid Centre, England
April 25, 2001
Girl From Mars
Burn Baby Burn
Jack Names The Planets
Only In Dreams
A Life Less Ordinary
Opening Act: snow patrol. Opening night of the UK tour in support of Free All Angels.
Tonight, for Ash, it's all about pure entertainment - plenty of pouting, puking and hit after hit. Tim Wheeler's posse are gradually proving themselves to be a fine update of some of the best adolescent songwriters that have gone before - from the Beach Boys to The Ramones, The Undertones and The Buzzcocks. Save for a contemporary overload of pop culture references there's really not much difference and Ash are still young enough to pull it off. 'Kung Fu' throat-chops its way across the stage. 'A Life Less Ordinary' is one of the lost great songs of the 90's and recent single 'Burn Baby Burn' sends the room into spasms.
Tim Wheeler clad in possibly the sickest T-shirt ever, may often be criticised for having a less than flawless voice, but it doesn't matter. It's in the live setting where it carries best and, like Joey Ramone or - Sweet Jesus - Fergal Sharkey, at least its distinct.
New tunes like 'Pacific Palisades', possible future single 'Sometimes' and the sweaty palmed 'Walking Barefoot' only up the teen -yearning ante like a British Weezer and, hey what do you know, here they are playing the nerdcore king's 'Only In Dreams' just to hammer the point home. Things might get a little scuzzy, a bit black PVC on 'Jesus Says' and new song 'Submission' and Mark Hamilton might puke on his shoes, but still the sun is shining and they barely pause for breath. Even when they dip into the last album 'Nu-Clear Sounds' the melodies are still coated in sugar for easy, quick digestion.
Most surprisingly, muscular men whisper "This is my favourite one" during 'Oh Yeah' to their girlfriends and the crowd seems to range in age from six to 60. And they all seem to pissed too. 'Candy' gets drawn out for a little to long as Tim puts down his guitar and works the front row, but there's really little else to fault other than Rick McMurray's mohawk which is admirably crap. Travis Bickle he isn't. A quick blast through 'Petrol' and 'Numbskull' and they're off cool as ice.
Review by KerrangReview 2:
Opening night of a brand new tour, and havoc is being wreaked on both tonight's running order and the bass player's guts. Both are in considerable turmoil with - as you'd expect - the latter providing the most spillage. But what do we care? We are the kids and we're at the seaside. It's sort of nearly summer and we demand to be rocked. Bring on the Ash! In for the kill from the off, Downpatrick's lost souls rip into 'Girl From Mars', tearing out the hearts of the first few rows of hungry teens in the process. A second swathe comes with 'Burn Baby Burn'. Just six minutes in and Ash can no longer do any wrong. Good work.
So what do you want? Hits? All present and correct. Everything from 'Jack Names The Planets' to 'Shining Light' is chucked into the mix, with stops at every delicious station en route. 'Kung Fu', slashed into new shape by Charlotte Hatherley's fevered guitar crunching, is as close to the perfect punk-pop formula as you're going to get... unless you're The Undertones and you're playing 'Teenage Kicks', of course.
A touch of tenderness crowbars itself into the set with the great 'Free All Angels' opener 'Walking Barefoot', and the very first live airing of 'Pacific Palisades' declares a pensive side to Ash that would generally tend to get obscured behind all the cartoon stuff. There's a long wait between the main set and the encores. Mark has hightailed it to the bogs for a ten-minute chunder break, and presumably the rest of the band have got their marker pens out and are trying to work out what songs they have not yet played. 'Lose Control', 'Numbskull' and - joy! - 'Petrol' are pulled out of the hat to keep the customers satisfied.
It's easy to forget just how great a pop band we have in Ash - until, that is, you're reminded by a dazzling display like this. They'll be lighting up the festivals this summer, for sure. Stereophonics and pals - prepare to start crapping yourselves.
Review from Q
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