Belfast, United Kingdom
“Jack Names the Planets” single release party with Lazer Gun Nun. Note this is a partial set list.
“Someone from the NME is here!!” screams the DJ. “About fucking time, too!!”
And, you know, if every rainy Thursday night in Belfast is like this one, he has a point. Show me the London venue that can attract 300 people to a show by two unknown bands and I‘ll show you a bar that charges three pence a pint.
As it is, the teeming ranks of sweaty youth (nearly everyone here, including the bands, would appear to be under 18) are here purely for the simple joys of a) going bonkers to some punk rock, and b) laughing at their schoolmates.
The appallingly named, but rather-fab-actually, Lazer Gun Nun warm the moshpit up with a fiery set of Lemonheads-style powerpop but it‘s Ash that are clearly the city‘s real teenage sensations. It‘s not hard to see why. Perhaps it‘s their youth (average age 16). Perhaps it‘s living in the rural idyll of Downpatrick (far-removed from Belfast‘s bustle, let alone London‘s). Either way, Ash are the freshest, least inhibited performers seen in years.
It‘s tempting to observe their punky exuberance, remember The Undertones and instantly form a Belfast wing of the New Wave Of New Wave (and that is almost certainly why half a dozen A&R men have flown over from the mainland). But it‘s fairer to point out that at a time when head- spinning melodies are like gold-dust, Ash sprinkle them around like sugar.
Hence, “Girl From Mars” is a slice of quicksilver wonder, “Petrol” is Nirvana on pep pills and happy juice, the single “Jack Names The Planets” is almost illegally joyful and Ash hit the spot with far more accuracy than their ages should allow.
Teenage kicks – still so very hard to beat.
By Mark Sutherland