Set lists, reviews, show notes and photos
London Brixton Academy, England
December 11, 2001
A Life Less Ordinary
Girl From Mars
There's A Star
Burn Baby Burn
Only In Dreams
Jack Names The Planets
Opening Act: Little Hell and Seafood
Eternal indie hopefuls Seafood are almost many things: They almost have the same spiky, angular melodic sensibility that the likes of JJ72 trade on to great effect. Equally, they almost convince as heads down Steve Albini-esque noise merchants, in a slightly fey English indie-rock fashion, of course. Even their adolescent punk aesthetics are delivered with just enough conviction, you almost believe that they mean it. Almost, that is, but not quite.
At times the carefully orchestrated dynamics of Seafood's 45-minute support set this evening, border on the very impressive. The industrial strength chunks of bass that bind Pleasurehead, the defiant power pop of Similar Assassins and the pulverising guitar breaks in Western Battle, all betray the hallmarks of an extremely competent band on the brink of something special. Unfortunately, they never seem able to escape an all-pervading sense of 'almost' throughout their set. Maybe it is the slightly repressed, almost apologetic, punky vocals. Perhaps the melodies just aren't up to the job. For whatever reason, Seafood's set tonight is perfectly enjoyable but ultimately unremarkable.
Fortunately, the same can definitely not be said for Ash. As the prodigal sons (and daughter) of indie pop erupt on to the stage from behind an impressive bank of epic floodlights, at least half of the sold out Academy becomes subsumed into a frenzied, swarming mosh pit. Introducing 'A Life Less Ordinary' Tim Wheeler wistfully remarks on how Ash's recent history has been a chequered "rags to riches to rags to riches" story. This year's 'Free All Angels' album confirmed their status once again as every sixth form pop kid's band of choice, and on the strength of tonight's performance, with extremely good reason.
There's a refreshing artless simplicity to Ash's live set. From the infectious mantra-like "You turn me on" refrain of 'Submission', to the bulldozing wall of sound guitars that soak through 'Goldfinger': Ash are unstintingly loud, unsubtle and awesomely energetic. Even their omnipresent guitar solos, which are so drowned in the mix you can barely make them out, still portray the sense that if you could hear them they'd be fantastic, and somehow that is enough.
The band, of course, play their parts perfectly. Mark strides around the stage awkwardly wrestling with his bass like it's an escaped python. Charlotte is somehow impossibly demure and charismatically excitable all at once. And, from behind his well worn drum kit mohicaned Rick makes a mockery of John Lydon's recent accusations of plastic punk posturing. Tim, armed with his trademark very Metal 'V' shaped guitar, is every inch the teenage box-room rock-god, come of age.Of course, delivering a set of such blistering 200mph punk rock proportions comes at a price. Tim's vocals are frequently to be found struggling against the guitar onslaught, and by the final encore the band's lack of versatility does come shining through - 'Candy' and 'Only Your Dreams' are the token slowies and stand out as the low points of the set. Such criticism seems churlish however, when Ash are so obviously good at what they do best. They end tonight with 'Teenage Kicks' - "an old Irish traditional song" which sums the gig up precisely. Pure, exuberant, power pop at its very finest.
Review from dotmusic
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