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Free: In Angel
Back with a new logo, a grizzly beard and meatier biceps (Charlotte included), Ash continue to grow up before our eyes. Tonight’s whiskey-stained St Patrick’s Day incarnation is a slightly shambolic mix up of new album 'Meltdown', and a torrential rip-up of their ever-increasing back-catalogue.
Don’t worry though, Ash haven’t matured on us. Tim Wheeler still finds time to call XFM presenter Christian O’Connell ‘a c-nt’ and live out childhood fantasies of jamming with Thin Lizzy guitarist, Brian Robinson who joins them for a cover of ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ before the encore. Their new single 'Clones' too, is a bit childish. Nodding towards Slipknot and missing out everything that makes Ash songs great, it’s rather throwaway. Luckily, their first proper single from 'Meltdown', ‘Orpheus’, is pretty damn superb – loud and proud with one of those trademark brilliant choruses.
There’s plenty of other new stuff too. ‘Starcrossed’ is a doe-eyed ballad of Bon Jovi proportions, whilst ‘Out Of The Blue’ is a buzzing, turbo-charged riot. The only nod to Ash’s much-forgotten 'Nu-Clear Sounds'-era is ‘Projects’, which gets lost amid classics like ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ and _‘Shining Light’ where Wheeler forgets the words.
Typically, there’s a few cringe-worthy moments where the harmonies don’t quite come off (‘Walking Barefoot’ overcomes this via the song’s pure intrinsic quality), but few notice amid the crowd of flying limbs and film stars. An eager Tim spots James Nesbitt before dedicating St Patrick’s Day to “people like us”.
As well as the Thin Lizzy duet, the indisputable highlight is new album closer ‘Vampire Love’ which starts with an ear-splitting, spiralling riff before powering off in a spree of hi-octane bass and their lushest chorus yet. "Tonight, I want you in my arms…" may sound familiar, but no more so than ‘Renegade Cavalcade’, whose "hey, hey, hey"s evoke fond memories of Weezer playing Green Day.
As the only remaining Britpop band of any interest or relevance, Ash, the undoubted Peter Pan of indie, remain on course for the interstellar domination that seemingly still eludes them. Don’t take them for granted though, they may just get serious.
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