Set opener, sludgy foot stomper Goldfinger gets the crowds hips oscillating, and minds drifting back to the simpler times of 90s adolescence. Bassist Mark Hamilton wanders the stage with a bemused intensity until he settles, legs akimbo to rumble out his cavernous bass hooks. It isnt long until the set list withdraws the big guns and super hits from its proverbial holster. Track three, Shining Light penetrated the U.K top 10 singles chart in the early noughties, and is, by any stretch of the imagination, a bubble gum punk anthem to truly behold. The crowds mood ascends at the choral pinnacles and an emotional joy wave of nostalgia births itself, and never subsides.
Surprisingly, the wistful classic Oh Yeah rears
its head much earlier in the set than I had previously imagined, and
perhaps even wagered on. Arguably, the bands most recognisable
song, a 90s classic a heartfelt ode to teenage love and
summer itself. The chorus sweeps through the room in its thundercloud
simplicity and the crowd succumbs to the enchanting couplet
It's well-established knowledge that ASH love a cover version. Illustrious and varied takes on Buzzocks, Helen Love, Little Hell, Pixies and ABBA have wowed previous audiences. So, when the crowd hear the opening chords of Another Girl, Another Planet from 70s rock group The Only Ones, they cant believe their luck. The crowd bop and sway to a punk pop classic, that (in an alternate universe) ASH could have perhaps written themselves.
It was somewhat serendipitous that this gig, rescheduled four times, landed randomly in the festive period, giving the band the opportunity to perform in Belfast during the Christmas season a tradition they are much fond of. What was even more fitting was their second cover of the night, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, which gives the crowd a near lethal injection of Christmas spirit like a syringe filled with cranberry sauce and mistletoe. Delicious but deadly.
Then we blink and the set-list is drawing to a close.
Burn Baby Burn the finale, is ushered in by Wheelers
shrieking guitar and they are joined onstage by local support act
Wood Burning Savages for a raucous, energy driven take
on the noughties superhit. As I watch the chaos ensue, I wonder where
the night has gone? Where have the last 25 year gone? The questions
are purely rhetorical and dissipate quickly in the fuzzing guitar
anthem. Then ASH vacate the stage like the good tea set,
back into the rocknroll cupboard to be excavated and awed upon
Ash - the most interviewed band by R*E*P*E*A*T, some
of which maybe here: