London, United Kingdom
With Muse and Angelica. This show was part of the NME Brat Awards series of gigs. “Seventh Circle” was called “Singapore Song” at the time.
- Lose Control
- Girl From Mars
- Walking Barefoot (Live debut)
- Lost in You
- Jesus Says
- Oh Yeah
- Shining Light (Live debut)
- Kung Fu
- Seventh Circle (Live debut)
- Fortune Teller
- A Life Less Ordinary
Ash are back tonight playing their first show in months, not counting last nights warm up gig of course. What have they been doing in this time away you ask, well actually they’ve been busy writing the follow up to Nu-Clear Sounds with Tim returning to Downpatrick, where most of the bands early songs were written to get back to that early vibe.
Ash of course are old hands at this venue, “This is the 11th time we’ve played this joint” states Tim, they know how to entertain the crowd and tonight are not going to disappoint. As Muse’s support slot draws to a close Ash take centre stage and rip through “Lose Control”, “Projects” and “Girl From Mars” at furious speed. Leaving everyone knackered.
Ash take the opportunity to debut three new songs tonight as headliners of this NME premier show. All of which look like taking Ash back to there very best. The new songs according to Tim himself, lie somewhere between the punk pop roots of 1977, and the rawness of Nu-Clear Sounds. “Walking Barefoot” is the first new song were introduced to with its beautiful melodies and harmonies, delicate lyrics and a storming chorus, topped with an excellent guitar solo, proving once and for all Tim Wheeler is one of the greatest songwriters of all time.
Another new song “Shining Light” is premiered, a pure pop anthem in league with “Oh Yeah”, its quite simply a wonderful rock ballad with a lovely melody and one of Tim’s best guitar solos, a definite contender for future single. While “Singapore Song” which features Charlotte on the keyboard, is a frail affair that will have everyone in tears.
As well as the usual classics “Goldfinger”, “Oh Yeah” and “Kung Fu” Ash revived an old favourite “Lost in You”, sounding as fresh and delicate as ever. Ash dip into Nu-Clear Sounds now and again with “Jesus Says”, “Fortune Teller” and “Numbskull”, all of which are highlights of the set. The single without an album “A Life Less Ordinary” is rocked out, before Ash dash off stage.
They return for a quick encore featuring Mudhoney and Ween covers and it’s left to a screaming Numbskull to bring the night to a close and everyone goes home happy. “Sorry if were pretty messy tonight but we haven’t done a gig in like six months”, says Tim at one point. He’s wrong of course this Ash at there very best.
Review by Steven Woodhead
Supermodels spouting bollocks is fine. we get that. It makes a slick sort of (non)sense. But trainee supermodels in bands, sporting songs with low-slung, spike-studded rock bollocks? Surely these kids will stumble like Naomi Campbell on the catwalk, arse in air and dignity down the dumper.
Not Aneglica. We’re expecting another glitter girl band to throw up some painfully thin tantrums, but they whip us up a treat with songs that are absolutely, utterly bitterly. “Why Did You Let My Kitten Die?” is fuzzier than the single we already know, and the violent “Bring Back Her Head” is aiming for national outrage. For all their Top Shop rock, though, Angelica aren’t supermodels, because Calvin Klein hasn’t given them the job yet.
Headliners Ash, though, are bona fide (or just boner if you’ve seen the “Numbskull” video) billboard candy. poached by CK One, Tim and Charlotte have gone all monochrome poses and moody jeans, although that didn’t exactly turn Kate Moss into Charlotte Church. But she never had balls of Nu-clear steel, so here’s the model Ash pair thrashing into “Lose Control” like Sixties six-string virtuoso Carlos Santana on an electric shock torture machine for suspected guitar noodlers. “Projects” sounds like a proper grown-ups song, and Ash play with such shuddering arm action that they must know theirs is a comeback that we’re depending on.
Sporting determined scowls, they’re still hungry. Take “Girl From Mars”, which now shares little with the outfit that strained to be heard a few years back. The racing harmonies are still there, but now Charlotte meets it head-on and slaps it into something further, harder - a deadly mosh moment. And the crowd go fucking silly, trying to keep up with their band.
We catch our breath during new song “Walking Barefoot”, which starts off with Tim a lonely figure under white lights, a melodic stab of guitar his only companion. Then, on cue, it erupts, and fans dodge the white-hot riff lava that chunders across the Astoria. if the last album sounded like drunken caveman-rock, the new stuff is more evolved: sleeker nut with a hint of barbarity. “Jesus Says” is still a screaming anthem for the unclean, and Ash even dump their youthful experimentation with that DJ fella.
No scratching tonight, then, but “Oh Yeah” makes us itch, watching a once-soppy teen love song that’s been caught in the act, squirming under the glare of indignant guitars. Another new one, “Shining Light”, is an obvious single, lovely and mischievous, and “Singapore Song” is a magnificent work in progress. Even the covers, Mudhoney’s “Who You Drivin’ Now” and Ween’s “What Deaner Was Talking About”, are shot through with Ash sounds, and the closing hysterical “Numbskull” is in stereo-porn which is much more shocking in the flesh.
After the grubby, sweaty act, though, Ash are still as darn attractive as ever. And they’re dying for it. So insert a expensive designer sex and drugs and rock’n’roll slogan here and wait for everyone to swoon at their feet.
Rick McMurray’s Verdict:
“It was a bit weird. I think that was our 11th gig at the Astoria. From talking to everyone afterwards, they said it was great. But onstage it was not quite clicking. We know we’re capable of more. I think it was very punky tonight. I was just enjoying having new songs in the set. It sounds more interesting. It’s kind of weird at gigs cos the crowd can stand a bit for new stuff. For “Goldfinger” the crowd went mental. The Ween song, we’ve done that quite a lot. We first did Mudhoney’s “Who you Drivin’ Now” a couple of years ago and then started playing it live. It’s nice on the encore, people are starting to know it now.”