Ash, Ireland’s favourite pop rock trio are back in Dublin tonight for a highly anticipated appearance at local indie haunt, Whelan’s of Wexford St. Excitement’s been building for weeks so it’s no surprise to see queue’s of hungry Ash fans geared up for a night of sweat, pints and tuneage. Entering the packed venue it seems tonight’s sell out crowd don’t seem concerned that they’ve lost the fashionably late edge by piling in just in time for opening act, The Plea. Fortunately it’s one of those nights you’re glad you came early as The Plea rocket through an incredibly well played set of heavy guitar laden alt-rock gems including ‘Praise Be’ from their split, special tour edition E.P. Definitely a band that requires further investigation and a great start to the night.
Belfast indie rockers LaFarro take the stage next and initially drop the quality a little. While The Plea presented themselves as well seasoned, confident performers; LaFarro singer Jonny Black looks uncomfortable, inexperienced and unexciting on stage. He stares at the floor, doesn’t connect with the crowd and lacks any energy as the band kick off their set. This drop is heightened by poor sound on the vocals which trespasses on the rest of the band’s efforts. As the set continues, Herb MaGee (the “only Catholic in the band”) begins some onstage banter that seems to liven LaFarro’s mood as well as the crowds. From there we’re treated to some great tunes as Johny finds his feet and Dave Magee’s head banging can be properly enjoyed. Nice save and another band you’ll be hearing more of soon.
As the lights go dark, the crowd erupts at the site of Ash taking the stage. On the rare occasions you get to see a band of their size take the same stage as your mates on their EP launch night, it’s hard not to feel that special tingling. ‘Lose Control’ opens the set and pounds the audience with its furious intensity. Tim Wheeler, Mark Hamilton and tonight’s stand in drummer Alan Lynn (LaFarro), all sound fantastic as they command the stage, kick ass and deliver some of the finest hits any Irish band has ever produced. Tickets There favourites ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ and ‘Dionysian Urge’ follow, immediately cementing this as a great night. ‘Twilight of Innocents’ makes an early appearance, which Tim passes off as an “experiment” and leads to mass sing-alongs from the crowd before hit after hit pile drive the crowd into submission. ‘Girl From Mars’, ‘Gold Finger’ and ‘Petrol’ bring us back to our youth while ‘Joy Kicks Darkness’ holds up the recent material’s crown for all to see.
‘Walking Barefoot’ has to be one of the highlights and it serves as a reminder of how great Free All Angels is. Again, the band are drowned out by the crowd, leaving them no choice but to rip through ‘Oh Yeah’, ‘Kung Fu’ and ‘The Dead Disciples’ which sends the pit into frenzy mode. ‘Shinning Light’, the mega-powered up ‘Orpheus’ and ‘Return of White Rabbit’ – the A-Z singles flagship dance-floor epic, finish the main set; giving all at the front a well needed chance to breath and mop the brow. Before long Ash return and bring us home with the stunning ‘Arcadia’, the punk fused classics ‘Angel Interceptor’, and ‘Jack Names The Planets‘ before calling it a night with one final blow out; the shredding ‘Burn Baby Burn’.
As surprising as it is to think Ash have been around for nearly twenty years, it’s even more incredible how amazing they are on stage. Their energy, passion and enthusiasm ensure they never lose connection with the audience and their songs sound better than ever. While the crowd leave, ears ringing and looking blown away from tonight’s amazing show, the band brim from the stage at a job well done. Come back soon lads!