Live at Leeds Stylus 23rd Sept 2021
Gigs have not been back for long and this rescheduled date promotes the Teenage Wildlife hits compilation that came out in February 2020! Tim reminds us it would have been St Patrick’s Day. But, as the hits go back to 1994, who’s counting?
The tour does what we hoped for – puts twenty slices of tight punchy pop-punk perfection onstage and celebrates the energy of live music. Singles are Ash’s special thing and the two most revered albums (1977 and Free All Angels) are only so because they are half made up of singles. The band acknowledged this when they abandoned albums for a while, only compiling the singles. Tim Wheeler has a gift for the big hook and tonight we just get those hooks.
Slamming into Goldfinger, the trio fill the room with tune. Mark on bass is either grooving in a lascivious way against his instrument or flinging it about in poses. Rick on drums holds it down and Tim is grinning. It takes Tim a while to really open up and remember he has a cordless guitar. Trios are blessed with simplicity and the bass comes through clear while Tim’s squawky buzzy guitar tone bites. I could list the songs but they are what you expected – a big slice of the first and third albums plus all the outriders.
Orpheus almost has a drum solo, gives an opportunity for band intros and moves into heavy crunching chords. The tacked on obligatory new song for the compilation is a little out of place – Darkest Hour – with disco sounds and deliciously heavy bass. It is twinned with Confessions In The Pool, which is dullish with a big hook to redeem it. Once past these it is pure joy all the way. Oh Yeah sees Tim throw in a squally guitar solo and his stage energy peaks. From then on we get a solo in every song with Jack Names The Planets received rapturously and The Only Ones’ Another Girl, Another Planet sees half the crowd singing along. Kung Fu is played at double speed until a slow drum breakdown for variety. Tim smiles as he milks the fake endings to Girl From Mars and rips out a lengthy chewy solo.
With that run down of older hits, only the encores remain. Two from Free All Angels (a ballad and a belter) and one from 1977 (a punk / metaller) sum up the range of Ash’s appeal and send every one home happy – but not before Rick has led a post-set crowd dance routine. I think he’d enjoyed being back on stage…..!
Here’s a link to our review of the Teenage Wildlife compilation: http://www.vanguard-online.co.uk/teenage-wildlife-25-years-of-ash/