Back to normal gigs for both Rachel and myself (after our self-promoted gig last time out) and for Ash, after their small venue tour recently. I was looking forward to hearing how the material from their new CD "Meltdown", for me Ash's best, most consistent and hardest rocking album yet, would translate in a bigger venue. So we hit the road just after 7, parking and meeting our Bristol friends just after 8. The place was heaving when we got there - obviously a sell-out - and we luckily got good viewing slots next to the mixing desk.
Missed first band The Crimea (boo!) but we were there in time for Saves The Day, Noo Joisey emo pop-punksters, about 8.15. They opened with their best number by miles, the brilliant "At Your Funeral", so song quality inevitably dipped thereafter, although the commitment and performance level stayed high. A sharp, snappy set of Jimmy Eat World type emo-lite was highlighted by "Hollow Shell", and the singer's endearing humility. Good one.
The packed-out venue got even more heaving, if possible, before Ash's entrance just before 9.30. Nicking U2's trick of coming on to one of their own song intros, they then kicked into said number, the titanic title track from rocking new CD "Meltdown". Then "Girl From Mars" and the place went mental! Big or small venue, Ash have the same effect! A perfectly selected set followed, juxtaposing the hard and heavy stuff with fresher, older, more innocent material, all of which was nevertheless toughened up "live". "A Life Less Ordinary" (still my favourite Ash number) was an early highlight and was followed by a growling, menacing "Clones". Oldie "Kung Fu", an unexpected but welcome "Jack Names The Planets", the by-now customary sing-along through surf-punk classic "Walking Barefoot" all whipped by in an adrenalized, frenzied powerful rush, before "Orpheus" brought an end to the impressive 1 hour 15 minutes set.
"We're going to play a very old song now," Tim Wheeler said as he introduced excellent encore "Petrol", before "Burn Baby Burn" brought an incendiary close to the proceedings. Neither note-perfect nor pitch-perfect by any means, but awesome, exciting and thrilling. Ash are getting better and harder rocking with age, and at only 27, there's more to come from them!