When I discovered Ash‘s A-Z series earlier in the year, I was more than a little frustrated that the band had played in Dundee last year early on in the associated tourand missed it. The announcement of what was effectively two Scottish warm up dates for their London headliner this evening allowed me to right that wrong at Fat Sam’s last night. The timing also meant that MPK1 (who has been digging Vol 1 recently) turned 14 in time to go to his first grown up show.
Rather bizarrely (not least because Ash have now played Dundee no fewer than 4 times since ‘Free All Angels’) i’d never seen Ash live before.
Which meant that any old favourites were never going to sound, well, old to me. In the end the main set was split equally between old favourite and A-Z material with Volume 2 edging out songs from Volume 1.
Which in turn meant that the whole thing was a blast from the opening ‘Arcadia’ to the encore closing ‘Burn Baby Burn’. There were a couple of surprises, not least the fact that 10 minute instrumental ‘Sky Burial’ was tackled (in a fairly faithful version).
Otherwise the old songs were dominated by ‘1977’ era songs and singles from ‘Free All Angels’ with only ‘Orpheus’ from ‘Meltdown’ representing that album and both ‘Nu-clear Sounds’ and ‘Twilight of the Innocents’ completely ignored (which is a bit harsh on the former).
The sound tended a little towards the distorted. That had the effect of blurring the songs a little and my attempts to identify songs quickly wasn’t helped by the fact that actually it’s a while since I’d listened to any Ash pre A-Z.
The main set was concluded by an extended ‘White Rabbit’ (much to MPK1’s delight since that’s his favourite song at the moment) whilst my favourites included, well pretty much all the old stuff and ‘Binary’.
The only disappointment of the set was that we got carnal rather than true love, but, hey, you can’t have everything.
1. Arcadia 2. Girl From Mars 3. Embers 4. A Life Less Ordinary 5. Binary 6. Goldfinger 7. Summer Snow 8. Walking Barefoot 9. Shining Light 10. The Dead Disciples 11. Sky Burial 12. Oh Yeah 13. Kung Fu 14. Carnal Love 15. Orpheus 16. Return of the White Rabbit
17. Jack Names The Planets 18. Angel Interceptor 19. Burn Baby Burn
A couple of footnotes. The band did a ‘Meet and Greet’ earlier in the day in Broughty Ferry and MPT was present to ensure that MPK2 (who is way too young to go to this sort of gig) got something a little different as a birthday present. (He’s not got it yet though, so don’t tell him!). Chatting briefly to the band, it was clear how much enthusiasm they retain for the A-Z concept.
Quite what’s it’s done for their commercial profile may be another thing. The only real disappointment of the night was the relatively low turn-out with plenty of space left in Level 2 at Fat Sam’s when I’d expected the show to be busy in the main venue. Their reputation took a little of a battering around the time of ‘Twilight of the Innocents’ and it appears that, despite its critical success, A-Z hasn’t restored that. Which on the evidence of the recent material and last night’s show is something of a shame as far as this writer is concerned.
The gig photographically is represented by support act Aerials Up simply because none of the Ash shots came out in a remotely usable form. On first listen they were quite promising, not quite as folky as their publicity would suggest but hardly rock demons either. Best for me was their download single ‘Stay Awake’ but elsewhere they veered between the Arcade Fire without the bombast (the second song) and an almost a cappella number (which did feature minimal guitar backing so it probably doesn’t count as a cappella).
Most fun moment of their set though was when the cellist rushed onstage at the start of the aforementioned second song and struggled to get ready in time for when her part started!
One of the Ash songs played last night: