Ash are a strange sort of beast. Selling 8 million albums worldwide and with 12 top 20 singles to their name, Ash are Northern Ireland’s most successful band but yet not too many people seem to know of them nowadays!
Frankly that’s rather criminal, as proved by tonight’s sell out #ASH20 birthday event at the Relentless Garage. Starting off with an Premium/VIP ticket exclusive acoustic gig (there was a earlier rarities set for VIP ticket holders who had £100 to burn), the band played some of the fan favorites and two guest spots from Steve Ludwin of Little Hell and Emmy The Great ensured the fans were kept happy about paying the small fee for premium tickets. Any doubt over the extra price were even more quickly eliminated for the select few as the band introduced us to “ASH-aoke” in which fans joined them onstage to sing along to the bands most popular songs..and a cover of ‘Teenage Kicks’. Now ladies and gentlemen, I don’t put myself down as the singing kind, but i did know the lyrics to the aforementioned Undertones classic. So i did what any self respecting muppet does after a few pints, I joined Tim Wheeler and co for a ever so graceful rendition of the song. There is a video of it on youtube, filmed by a random punter who must have loved it, but i beg of thee not to search for it. My reputation as a fairly trustworthy writer may just go down the pan..
So my shameful moment of glory aside, the main set, hosted by the lovely Josie Long, started with a short set from the brilliant
BLEECH who stormed through a set of grunge sludge anthems, including the fab new single ‘Mondays’.
Next up came the brilliantly witty covers band Gash, formed by Ash guitarist Tim Wheeler’s missus Emmy The Great and co. The all female group, are you getting the name pun yet?, stumbled affectionatly over a set of hilariously altered Ash songs which i almost feel i should post a setlist for. The highlight of the short set had to be wonderfully out there cover of ‘Jack Names The Planets’ which became ‘Jack Names The Planets After Gash’. Not half bad for 3 days rehearsal! An honorary mention must also go to the backing singer who was so incredibly foxy my eyes were fixed on here for much of the set’s duration.
Next up was the lovely Som from largely forgotten millennial sensations My Vitriol, creators of the Nu-Gaze genre. Mainly piano led on this occasion, although some shoe-gaze crept in towards the end. Som showed enticeing glimmers of his talents with his previous band.
Next up was the amazing Adam Buxton, who although let down by a low aligned projector, went through one of his amazing BUG sets on Ash’s ‘Burn Baby Burn’ YouTube video, going through the most hilarious comments with his own trademark stamp of humor.
This as you may have guessed served as the introduction to the headline set from the birthday boys themselves (their 3rd set of the day). Opening with ‘Lose Control’ the band started a punk/rock heavy opening trio which also featured debut single ‘Jack Names
The Planets’ and ‘Girl From Mars’ which send the crowd into a frenzy from the start that rarely died down as the set went on. Other highlights included a run through of the underrated ‘Someday’ from the ‘Free All Angels’ album before rising into punk frenzy with ‘Oh Yeah’ and ‘Kung Fu’ from ‘1977’. The band were then joined by Russell (who previously acted as Ash’s touring guitarist) and Matt from Bloc Party who played through ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Angel Interceptor’ before Matt handed back the drum duties to Ash drummer Rick McMurray as Russell and Tim helped tear through 2009 single ‘Return Of The White Rabbit’.
The band were then joined by Grant from Feeder for an energetic cover of Nirvana‘s ‘Breed’ before former guitarist Charlotte Hatherley joined her ex-bandmates onstage for set-closing trio ‘A Life Less Ordinary’, ‘Shining Light’ and ‘Burn Baby Burn’.
All in all a glorious evening of forgotten 90’s rock. and who can fault that eh!