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Though they may no longer enjoy the popularity gained by debut album '1977' or career-resurrecting 'Free All Angels', Ash's recent 'Islands' album had more than enough to keep them from heritage act territory. Tonight's appearance in the Calder valley is part of a small run of shows breaking up their more commonly experienced festival sets.
With the clock having comfortably passed half past nine before the band hit the stage in front of the modest capacity of around a couple of hundred, you'd be forgiven for thinking the trio might take it easy. Not a chance. A 23-song curfew-breaking set sees them through as if they've a crowd a hundred times larger, yet enjoying the intimacy of a setting in which the crowd are rammed up to the stage. Finer cuts from their latest release, including 'Confessions By The Pool', 'Annabelle' and 'All That I Have Left', sit comfortably in a career-spanning performance of hits and favourites; the likes of 'A Life Less Ordinary' and 'Kung Fu' encouraging a fevered atmosphere.
Fevered being the operative word because it is soon clear the fans are relishing the chance to see Ash in such a setting. The energy is reciprocated on stage; Tim Wheeler's shirt soon looking like it has been through a monsoon and drummer Rick McMurray using song gaps to fan himself. The rhythm section, completed by the never-static Mark Hamilton, twice takes leave from stage for unconfirmed reports of vomiting, much to the amusement of Wheeler. The frontman is most at ease in the sweltering sweatbox, photo-bombing audience members and casually talking to the crowd. He laughs off an ear-splitting intro-chord to 'Sometimes' as they continue to rattle out the likes of 'Shining Light', 'Jesus Says' and 'Orpheus', the latter of which gives McMurray the chance to smash his drum set to within a beat of destruction. Their signature tunes, of course, remain as 'Girl From Mars' and 'Burn Baby Burn', which enthral as much now as they did upon release many years ago. Tonight, they top off a perfect storm between band, audience and venue, resulting in a show which will live long in the memories of those in attendance.
After twenty-six years and six previous albums, Ash return with a new, fresh, twelve-track album that fizzes with a vibrancy more readily associated with youthful exuberance. For Tim Wheeler and Mark Hamilton, at least, forty-one would appear to be the new twenty-one. The latest album from Ash, following on from 2015's 'Kablammo!' (..and the 2007 announcement, now clearly redundant, that the band would no longer release albums) takes its title from its various recording locations on different islands around the world.
The mix and production on the album is crisper than ever; the vocals are ever so slightly more forward facing and the arrangements are not as fuzzy or hazy as some of Ash's previous records. One of the lead singles taken from the new album, 'Annabel', is a throwback to former glories such 'A Life Less Ordinary'. The succinct piece of guitar driven power pop fuses Manics-like riffs with irresistible harmonies and a relentless ever building beat. Album opener 'True Story' is a gentler affair but no less arresting with its revolving passages and sing-a-long chorus.
The original Ash trio of Wheeler, Hamilton and McMurray are also joined by fellow Northern Irish legends Damien O'Neill and Mickey Bradley of The Undertones. Adding vocals, electricity and energy to early release 'Buzzkill', they also seemingly add a touch of unreserved enjoyment and excitement. Lyrically, the song may be pointing in a despondent and disillusioned direction but musically it's all upbeat, thrashing guitars, simple melodies and anthemic hooks.
Continue reading: Ash - Islands Album Review
Over 90 names including Liam Gallagher and PVRIS have been announced for Reading and Leeds this week.
More than 90 names have been added to the already stellar line-up for Reading & Leeds Festival 2017, with Britpop legend Liam Gallagher heading up the new arrivals in a UK Festival Exclusive. He'll be joining the already announced headliners Kasabian, Eminem and Muse on the main stage.
Liam Gallagher joins the line-up for Reading & Leeds Festival 2017
Also added on the main stage line-up are Massachusetts rockers PVRIS who are on their way with their second record, Def Jam talent Vince Staples, drum and bass legend Goldie, garage band VANT, Scottish duo Honeyblood and 'Lies' hitmakers Deap Vally.
We preview some of the top acts on the bill this year.
Summer festival season kicks into high gear this weekend with the first big event of the calendar taking place on the south coast. Tens of thousands of people will be heading to Seaclose Park on the Isle of Wight for a bill, which is top heavy on heritage acts that bring with them a sense of nostalgia. While recent years have welcomed the likes of Jay-Z, Calvin Harris and Kings Of Leon to headline, this time round it seems big names with an even bigger back catalogue are being used as the main attraction.
However, many of the headline acts seem to be experiencing a renaissance of sorts. For example, Blur, whose new album 'The Magic Whip', their first since 2003, has won critical acclaim. The former Britpop poster boys will take to the Main Stage on Saturday night in the knowledge that this is one of the first times that UK crowds will get to see this new material given the live treatment. You can expect a set heavy on those new songs, but peppered with all the classic singles, certainly a formula for a memorable festival appearance. It's a similar story for The Prodigy who'll headline the Main Stage on Friday after The Black Keys. Both acts have played the festival in recent years and here they're repeating the joint top billing that was given to Biffy Clyro and Calvin Harris last year. As with Blur, The Prodigy's new album, 'The Day Is My Enemy', has revived interest in the band following an extended period out of the spotlight. Elsewhere, Fleetwood Mac will bring proceedings to a close on Sunday, bolstered by the return of Christine McVie to the band, a set covering Rumours era gems like 'Don't Stop' and 'Songbird' is a strong possibility.
The stalwarts of indie, Ash's biography is close in length to 'War and Peace'! Having been together for nearly twenty years, they have experienced changes of line ups, seen Britpop come and go and have seen a complete change in the way people listen to music. We caught up with them back stage at Benicassim Festival to chat about the secret behind their longevity, their inventive way of combatting changes in the industry and how it's apparently more fun to be in Ash than it is to be in Bloc Party!
Continue reading: Ash, Interview
For those of you who are a little out of the loop, following their last album Twilight of the Innocents, Teen Britrock Heroes Ash announced that they would no longer release traditional albums, and would focus on releasing singles. This seems like a logical step, seeing as Ash have always been a much better singles band. The first fruit of this project is A-Z Vol.1, a collection of the first 13 singles (of a planned 26).
Although it looks suspiciously like a regular album, A-Z Vol.1 can really only fairly be judged as a compilation of singles. The styles of music on offer here really don't pull together one cohesive work - which is definitely one of the A-Z projects strengths. Ash have been set free to sprawl however they see fit across genre boundaries. Take the first track - True Love 1980 - a keyboard heavy electro-pop number, which sits comfortably next to the almost 6-minute rock anthem Joy Kicks Darkness. Experimental tracks that the Ash of old would never have thought about putting out like the delicate Pripyat sit shoulder to shoulder with more classic Ash moments like the fast and punchy pop punk of Command.
It has to be said that over their (almost) 20 year career, Ash have never really consistently delivered quality songs from the start to end of an album. Perhaps this is a negative side effect of growing up and evolving musically in the public eye. However, with A-Z Vol.1, Ash have really grown into the Rock band everybody knows they could be. This collection houses some of their best material, like the epic and piano led Arcadia and Neon. These songs showcase a huge and epic quality only ever really hinted at in some of Ash's earlier work. Another brilliant song on A-Z Vol. 1 is Dionysian Urge, which stands out as one of the best songs Ash have ever delivered.
In conclusion then, if you haven't been following the A-Z series, Vol.1 is as good a place as any to start. Roll on Vol.2.
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These 3 rascals had their first rehearsal 27 years ago today! #momentousmomentsinthehistoryofrock #haircuts… https://t.co/MhtCc5uTz4
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RT @AbsoluteRadio90: On air now: @ashofficial frontman @TimWheeler1977 is with you for a very special Britpop Takeover show. He'll be play…
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RT @BBCnireland: Backing up @snowpatrol at Ward Park were Downpatrick’s finest delivering a total pop classic, Girl From Mars 👉 https://t.c…
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