There is a solid reason why Ash, when many of their ‘Britpop’ contemporaries have thrown in the towel and got proper jobs, have managed to survive without becoming a nostalgia act – Tim Wheeler’s uncanny knack to fashion a punky pop melody. ‘Kablammo’, rather than a slowed down version of their former selves is just as ‘kick you in the face’-tastic as they have ever been.
Solid gold slam-dunk, arms in the air, jumping, swaying, laughing, moshing tunes like A Life Less Ordinary, Orpheus and Jack Names The Planets do not mean that newies such as the infectious ‘Go Fight Win!’ , ‘Let’s Ride’ or ‘Moondust’ sound anything less than equals. Even ‘Wild Surf’ from the unlovable ‘Nu Clear Sounds’ – the classic example of a record recorded after tour and fame burnout – is a delight – the sound of the summer. These songs were always sky-scraping, joyous celebrations of life and the band remain forever young in their late 30’s.
‘Kung Fu’ turns the floor into a bubbling mass of pogoing just as ‘Oh Yeah’s timeless tale of summer lovin’ gets arms aloft, voices raised in unison as 20 years just slip away with a band showing as much energy and commitment now as then. Bassist Mark still stumbles around the stage before launching himself out on it’s edge, Tim’s shit eating grin plastered across his chops like he has the best gig in the world and drummer Rick solid as an indie rock with great deadpan chat between songs. Why wouldn’t you want to share in the fun?
After 23 years this lot are not about second, third or forth winds anymore – they are just confidently hitting their stride. “We’ve been coming to London from 21 years now and you’ve never let us down” said Tim, before a suitably incendiary tear-up of ‘Burn Baby Burn’ kicks us into the street. The feeling is mutual, sir.