Always great to be back at the Manchester Ritz. No matter the sponsor attached to the venue you know always in for a special night in splendid surroundings.
A riotous performance landing somewhere between the Rapture and the Icarus Line or perhaps a domesticated Mooney Suzuki. Either way it’s very fitting on night celebrating the year 2001. There is a bit of a flat start but once the sound engineer warms up their guitars we start hearing all the raw power they can muster. Definitely living up to all the praise these guys are receiving. I enjoyed it and so will you!
The songs being played tonight soundtrack my formative teenage years. More often than not when I look back on my happier memories of watching a band on a main stage of a festival, it’s a warm summer’s day and Ash are playing with Charlotte in their number with the most enviable greatest hits set and absolutely killing it!
We are here tonight celebrating the album by the once quartet that made an indelible mark on the early 21st century and stabbed through the heart of the unstoppable beast that was Nu Metal. With a blade of sugary, sunshine, indie rock and distorted pop goodness. Long before the Strokes and the White Stripes, Ash brought guitar rock back to the teenagers bedroom. No turntables were in sight and it never sounded so good!
The evening is kicked off with the inevitable double stomp to the face of ‘walking barefoot’, it may be mid September but I can smell the freshly cut grass and all that good shit that comes with a nostalgic summer memory. I’m not always a fan of the “classic album revisited” setlists but tonight it doesn’t feel wooden. It feels honest and earnest.
From then on we blaze through the classics. ‘shining light’, ‘burn baby burn’, sadly ‘candy’ becomes the inevitable casualty where those in attendance need a piss/fag/drink or all of the above. Tbf every track from the album is a memorable number and gets a great showing tonight.
When face to face with a classic album with so many memorable singles it’s easy to overlook the album tracks. No issues in that department tonight, the long converted throng of the crowd is eating up track after track. Honorable mentions to ‘someday’ and ‘Nicole’.
As if all 13 tracks of Free All Angels were not enough, here in Manchester we are treated to a most enviable encore. The classics are well represented, obviously to get all the hits in and the whole studio you would need a Springsteen length set and of course it is a school night. ‘numbskull’, ‘a life less ordinary’, ‘kung fu’ and ‘orpheus’ to name a few. Personally, I would have liked to have got a few B-sides from the era in (‘gabriel’ etc) but you can’t win them all. The night is finished off nicely with the always welcome ‘girl from Mars’ and gets the love from the crowd it so deserves.
It’s been a cracking night to launch the vinyl reissue (don’t forget 1977 is also available!) and it’s always great to have Charlotte back with the lads even if only for a couple of gigs. Another great evening to go alongside all my other classic Ash memories. Nostalgia and satisfaction guaranteed.
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Author: Dan Kasm