Wednesday, 24 March 2010

538 ASH, SEAFOOD, Bristol Academy, Monday 3 December 2001

Straight out of hospital after my gall bladder operation; and straight out on the gigging trail again! So, with a gut-full of stitches but feeling fine apart from that, Rachel and I hit the road fairly early to ensure we could get a decent spot at this sold-out gig.

A new venue for me, this, but it's situated on the ground floor of the site of the former Studio, so we knew how to get there, and parked up in the multi-storey. Got in early doors and found a good spot on the bar balcony of this venue, which was similar in layout to the Astoria but smaller than I expected, with similar decor to the Hackney Ocean. We ran - inevitably - into Kev and David Seafood before their set; running off to the toilets as there were apparently no facilities backstage! Happy to take a watching brief for their set, as the dancefloor was already stuffed, and it might be a bit hard on my stitches!

Seafood were on at 8, and kicked off with "Cloaking", their thrillingly spiky and spooky recent single, David already on great gut-wrenching screaming form during the strident chorus. The cacophonous thrill of "Guntrip" was next up, Seafood on top form "live" but having little or no effect on this strangely motionless audience! Ash gave them a 45 minute support slot, so thankfully they were able to play more than 5 songs this time (which was their lot for the recent My Vitriol support!) and could introduce some light and shade into this well-paced set, with a couple of the slower, more introspective numbers from the current "When Do We Start Fighting" album. However, the finale as ever was "Folk Song Crisis", which David dedicated to Bristol - I confess I didn't get why at first, and bemoaned the fact that Bristol "didn't deserve" such a great song being dedicated to it, on the strength of tonight's audience. However, after the white noise mid-section gradually maneuvered into the dynamic closing chant of "I hope the wretched town will fall", suddenly it all fell into place. Certainly there was an extra edge and venom to David's prolonged screams of the hook!

Ash came on at 9.15 prompt to a rapturous welcome, and the place went nuts. T'uh, the kids only had eyes for Ash! Following a thrashy pop opener, they went straight into "A Life Less Ordinary", for me the best thing they've done by miles, ref. An amphetamine-fast version of that was followed by "Angel Interceptor", their Ramones-ish early single, and "Goldfinger", as big and bouncy as ever.

For me the set sagged a little after that, and became a bit to samey and one-dimensional, but they got it back towards the end with some prime cuts from their recent "Free All Angels" CD, bursting with surf-pop-punk life. A surprising "Uncle Pat" encore before the inevitable "Jack Names The Planets" sent everyone home happy, but for me this Bristolian crowd had ignored the best set of the day earlier on, Seafood once again proving they're the best of British right now by some distance!

Had a quick chat with da' Food's Kev and Caroline - over the balcony, as some fascist security guard wouldn't let us get on the dancefloor after Ash's set - before hitting the road. Nice place, crap clientele, overzealous bouncers but 1 1/2 fine sets - overall not a bad part of my recuperation!

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