26th October 2011
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”…or so the story goes….
Tonight’s opeing gambit came courtesy of The Virginmarys. A bluesy vagabond trio plying stoked rock and roll wringing every drip of power and energy from their instrumental weapons of choice. Varying the pace between slow acoustic fables, mid tempo romper stompers and fiery riffed guitar free for all’s, this highly addictive set was nicely balanced. With only one guitar, frontman Ally Dickaty both enthralled with his flaming blues licks, overdriven clattered chords and instantly lovable melodies. With attack, restraint and raw blues pop power in equal measure, this trio gave their all in the name of rock and roll.
Futures, a much hyped pop-punk band felt somewhat stunted in their reply. Their polished pop rock was well crafted, shiny and skirted with Coldplay-esque stadium ambitions. Yet it all felt a little too pedestrian despite the three guitars on show. Their radio hawking melodies were mostly forgettable over which the vocals were barely audible.
This support battle was won and lost on the drummers stool! “A Tale of Two Drummers“, so to speak. One steam rolled through his set inflicting full blooded smashes, thrashing the skins to within an inch of their lives. The other sat calmly, looking cool, knockin out ‘rock band’ 1-2-1-2 beats without a whiff of passion. The Viginmarys triumph from this particular tale while Futures are left to face the guillotine of defeat.
As an Ash veteran, I was thrilled on the announcement of tonight’s Free All Angels show. It was a corking album which takes me back to younger summers, played in full no less + greatest hits (no a-z nonsence, phew!). To top that off we also are treated to a return to the Ash stage, of former axe slinging princess, Charlotte Hatherley!
They wasted no time in small talk tonight. Straight on with the trio of knockout of tunes which lead off Free All Angels, feelgood punker Walking Barefoot, Sing your heart out Shining Light and the irrepressible Burn Baby Burn. “Not a bad start to an album hey…”, remarks flying v armed frontman, Tim Wheeler. Even If he says so himself.
But then, I got that immediate wake up call, telling me that the highlights have been and gone after only 10 minutes.
Yet a top form’ ‘full fat’ dual guitared Ash threw themselves into every tune, even sparking mini crash pits with the furious punk combo of Shark and Pacific Palisades plus sparking mass soppyness with ballads Someday and There’s A Star. They managed to maintain the euphria from track 1 through 12 an impressive feat.
Wrapping up the album section they dived off, only to return with even more vigour and purpose. Their Greatest Hits set was even better than what came before. Tim was basking in the crowds reflective energy while fiery haired Charlotte looked like she was having a blast being back in front of the faithful. We can only hope for a permanent return, but On the strength of tonight’s show, there might be a chance…maybe?
Throwing in an extended run of classics including Girl From Mars. Oh Yeah, Orpheus, A Life Less Ordinary and a cool cover of Teenage Kicks. They clearly overran curfew when returning for a second encore, not that there were any complaints mind you. This ensure no classic was left unaired as Kung Fu rounded the night out… kicking and screaming in its pop rock magnificence. A masterful set from a live band who never, never, never, disappoint!