Just four months after they tore Whelan’s apart, ASH are back and this time they’ve got an old friend with them. Back in August, fans around the world rejoiced at the news that legendary fourth member; Charlotte Hatherley was joining the band for a one off U.K. & IRE tour to mark the tenth anniversary of their career defining album, Free All Angels. Charlotte amicably parted ways with the group in early 2006 to pursue a successful solo career and the group have carried on as trio ever since, but have on occasion called on the services of Bloc Party’s Russel Lissack for live performances. While Charlotte’s return may only be temporary, fans of the band will agree the group were at their live best with her in the line-up. She adds a quiet coolness, delicate character and shredding guitar to their sound and don’t even mention the harmonies – too good. With drummer Rick McMurray also present and correct after a short absence, the scene is set for the most memorable ASH gig of the last decade.
The night kicks off early with support acts Tieranniesaur and The Future but, no offence to them, there’s only one band people want to see tonight. As the lights go dark, dramatic music and NASA launch commands boom over the PA, ASH take the stage and the crowd explode with excitement. Seeing the four members back together is a dream come to life for those in attendance (and yours truly of course). Obviously delighted with the response, the band immediately delves into Free All Angels and kick off proceedings with Walking Barefoot, followed by Shinning Light and a jaw dropping performance of Burn Baby Burn. Right off the bat it’s clear that the time apart hasn’t hampered the group’s ability to perfectly fuse together and deliver these songs as they should sound. Charlotte’s overwhelming charm hasn’t diminished in any way shape or form since her departure and she still rocks like a motherf**ker on stage. Tim spends the first half of the set competing with the crowd to be heard as every word of every song is sung back to him. Mark and Rick just perfectly round off one of the hardest rockin’ bands this country has ever produced.
Tim pauses for a moment to thank everyone in attendance, ‘re-introduce’ Charlotte and highlight that now the band are about to play songs they haven’t performed in nearly ten years before kicking into Candy, Cherry Bomb, the Rick Mc Murray composed Submission and Someday with the songs sounding as fresh as they did in 2001. As the album continues, Sometimes and There’s A Star shine through with the incredible World Domination rounding off the set. Despite this being the first ever full performance of the record, the band don’t miss a beat and in itself delivered a quality show. But wait, there’s more!. Tim thanks the crowd who are still screaming with delight and announces the band will return in a few minutes to play another full set which sees the audience leap with astonishment and delight.
The band return quickly and fire off with Projects from Nu-Clear Sounds (the band’s first album with Charlotte) before continuing their assault with A Life Less Ordinary (earth shatteringly amazing performance), Star Crossed and Orpheus from the Meltdown album and the classic Wildsurf. There’s also a special performance of Warmer Than Fire which Tim reminisces used to be a set standard in the Free All Angels days before they close off their main set with the rallying Oh Yeah.
Returning to the stage, the band introduce two time Irish air guitar champion Deku Chan for one of the nights stand out performances, Lose Control. Kung Fu Follows sending the mosh pit into chaos and the night is closed with the triumphant Girl From Mars. With that, the band hit their curfew and take a well deserved bow before leaving the stage.
This was without a doubt the greatest ASH performance many have ever seen and it delivered everything any fan could have ever hoped for. Whether Charlotte’s return to the group turns into a permanent situation or not remains to be seen, but for now the group look and sound the best they ever have and this tour is just another reminder of why we love them so much. Fans in the U.K. – prepare to be amazed!
Set-List Available @ Swear I’m Not Paul.com