Ash At The Olympia Theatre – Photos & Review
20 years ago, three schoolboys made history when their debut, 1977, was released. It was an instant britpop era classic, proving to be the soundtrack to a generation of lovelorn teenagers. Those boys, of course, are the powerhouse that is Ash. Tonight, the Downpatrick icons return to The Olympia to play the debut in its entirety.
The group, who have gone from being one of the biggest names in pop to a small cult band, have risen to the top again after 2015’s highly successful Kablammo. While there’s no doubts these boys are still at the forefront of indie rock, tonight is all about the nostalgia. This is made apparent from the get go, with old favourites ‘Lose Control’, ‘Goldfinger’ and the mammoth ‘Girl From Mars’ kicking things off. Charismatic frontman Tim Wheeler still seems as youthful as ever, and is applauded for his fresh vocals and red hot guitar skills.
The tunes keep coming, and the nostalgia sets in with the older members of the crowd. Wheeler coyly asks the crowd if anyone lost their virginity to the album, before charging into the Oasis-like ‘Gone The Dream’. While most tunes get a fantastic reaction, some of the lesser known tracks take longer to get a rise with. Nevertheless, the quality of the tunes is stellar. Things are taken up another notch with blistering performances of ‘Kung Fu’ and a sing-along rendition of ‘Oh Yeah’.
In fifty short minutes, we have reached the last act of the timeless album, with the emo drenched ‘Lost In You’ and hyper paced ‘Darkside Lightside’ capping things off. Fortunately, we’re treated to a few more oldies, including the bouncy ‘Uncle Pat’ and a bizarre yet fantastic set of covers: ABBA’s ‘Does Your Mother Know’ and the Star Wars Cantina Band Theme. These guys are sci-fi nerds after all.
Now finishing up a lengthy and indulgent set, some more modern favourites such as the bluesy ‘Orpheus’ and uplifting ballad ‘Shining Light’ appear. Closing things up once and for all is the pop punk classic ‘Burn Baby Burn’, with bassist Mark Hamilton performing his signature bass gymnastics along the way.
Ash are one of the rare exceptions of bands who not only survived the 90s britpop wave, but also weathered the noughties indie movement. They’ve been at it for over twenty years and are still making top tier guitar pop. Tonight however was all about the nostalgia, and if anyone has earned that much, it’s Ash.
Photos by David Doyle
Review by Finn O’Reilly
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