It’s not every night that you get to see a band who have sold over a million albums in a space as intimate as the live room at Mike the Pies, but on a rain-swept Thursday in the legendary Listowel venue that is the treat that awaited the eager punters when Ash rocked into town.
And rock they did, after a humorous entry to the strains of an A-Team/Flash Gordon theme song mash-up and with amps turned up to 12 they launch straight into the glorious Goldfinger and never let up for over ninety minutes.
A Life Less Ordinary is still as uplifting as ever, whilst Angel Interceptor sees Tim Wheeler unleashing his first truly searing riff of the night. As you’d expect the set is mostly pulled from the more popular tracks in their extensive back catalogue, but there’s also the unique opportunity to hear the first outing of their latest single and new album title track Race the Night in front of an audience.
Orpheus sees drummer Rick McMurray go on an elongated solo which incites some mild moshing at the front of the stage (the tight venue doesn’t afford the space for much more than that), before segueing into the still fantastically fresh sounding Oh Yeah, a false close is followed by Wheeler conducting the Mike the Pies crowd in a joyful singalong.
We also get an education on notable links between the band’s hometown of Downpatrick and Listowel which are apparently twinned, and a poor unfortunate punter is cheekily asked by Wheeler “whether they had a good slash” (the door to the toilets are literally side of stage). Sometimes is a shimmering highlight, while Confessions in the Club brings a real groove to proceedings. The anthemic Shining Light, menawhile, is rendered in sublime fashion.
Wheeler hands over guitar duties to his nephew and BIMM student Reuben Wheeler for set closer Kung Fu, which sees Hamilton bringing his bass into the midst of the adoring crowd. The encore is the ultimate fan-pleaser as they race through Uncle Pat, Girl from Mars and Burn, Baby Burn with the entire venue now a heaving mass of smiling faces and sweaty bodies.
No better way to finish out another hugely memorable night in Mike the Pies, which saw our heroes perform with the fervour of a band that still has plenty of fuel in the tank despite being over thirty years on the road.
Photography: Liam Kelly Photography