Ash / Futures – O2 ABC, Glasgow – 22nd October

For the third time this month a Saturday night means a trip to Glasgow although it’s to the O2 ABC rather than Stereo as a destination and with MPK1 in the passenger seat.

And once again it was worth the trip. Ash, a long time ago, seemed to realise that their popularity seems to fluctuate in inverse proportion to their experimentation so a ‘Free All Angels’/(suppposed) Greatest Hits set seemed to be a pretty safe bet by concentrating on their strengths.

So it proved with the evening pretty much a procession of great songs. The FAA set reinforced my opinion that, whilst possibly their best, it’s not a record that fully deserves classic album status. There’s just a little too much filler for that to be the case, for these ears at least, in the likes of ‘Submission’, Candy’ and ‘Pacific Palisades’. And technically the whole show probably peaked after song 3, but this portion of the set was still a reminder of how good some of the slightly less well known tracks on the LP are – the likes of ‘There’s A Star’ and ‘Nicole’ in particular.

The old bugbear of the LP show, the ‘you know what’s coming next’ syndrome, doesn’t seem to be such a handicap for me these days – if I can’t remember the exact order of ‘Doolittle’ or ‘Daydream Nation’ then ‘Free All Angels’ is going to be a constant suprise! Old age it appears is  not entirely without its positives …

After a short break the band retook the stage for the alleged Greatest Hits section. Given that they played 2 non-singles LP tracks AND  a B-side (and the not exactly chart smash ‘Starcrossed’)  Interesting Stroll through the Back Catalogue would have been a more appropriate title. Not that this listener was complaining about hearing ‘Projects’ and ‘Lose Control’ (nor indeed the excellent ‘Warmer Than Fire’). In fact this section, concluding with a rousing ‘Kung Fu’, was all pretty brilliant.

Titular gripes apart, the only real disappointment of Ash’s performance was that nothing was played from ‘A-Z’, given that those songs collectively prove that Ash are far from spent as a creative force. This may or may not have had something to do with the presence of Ms Hatherley – certainly nothing was played that postdated her departure from the band.

In conclusion the show left me wondering quite why Ash aren’t really massive. Maybe the various career choices over the years have prevented them getting the lift that a couple of really successful LPs might have brought but on songs alone, they really do deserve far greater success.

Main support came from London band Futures (which had more than a touch of irony given the backward looking nature of the show). To be honest we only really saw a couple of songs. the first of which seemed to be a bland take on modern ‘alternative’ rock but their final song was a lot better. It was nearly enough for to buy the LP but for once I managed to resist that urge.

The reason that we saw so little of the supports was that the advertised doors time (on the tickets and also the venue’s own website as recently as Wednesday) was 7.00 pm yet it seems like doors were open half an hour earlier. How are you supposed to know about these things?

Free All Angels set

1. Walking Barefoot  2. Shining Light  3. Burn Baby Burn  4. Candy  5. Cherry Bomb  6. Subvmission  7. Someday  8. Pacific Palisades  9. Shark  10. Sometimes  11. Nicole  12. There’s A Star  13. World Domination

Greatest Hits set

14. Projects  15. A Life Less Ordinary   16. Starcrossed  17. Oh Yeah  18. Orpheus  19. Wildsurf  20. Warmer Than Fire  21. Girl From Mars

Encore

22. Lose Control  23. Kung Fu

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