Ash at New Slang Night at Hippodrome – Kingston, London – 17 May 2018

Listening to Ash’s just released seventh studio album ‘Islands’, minutes after seeing them launch it in an intimate and heaving nightclub in Kingston, two things occur . Firstly, how lucky we are to have Ash grace the stage, no matter how big, so many times, over so many years (The Point Theatre off the back of 1977 in 1997 anyone?). Secondly, God damn Tim Wheeler is one of the great indie-rock writers of our time.

Ash arrived on stage around 10:30pm, just 90 minutes before Islands came out, and launched straight in to its opening missive Buzzkill. In latter years there has been a tendency for Ash to plough through the new ones just to get to the classics, but almost straight away the crowd go crazy for Buzzkill. It sounds like an Ash classic already, and it doesn’t stop there. We are treated to six songs from the new LP and only maybe only one of them doesn’t live up to Ash standards. We even get to witness the live debut of Somersault, and they didn’t “fuck it up”, as drummer McMurray admits they did during soundcheck.

Confessions in the Pool – which wasn’t a fan-favourite upon first being released online, really expands in a live setting and gets the place hopping with its Abba-esque beat, Wheeler can hardly keep the smile off of his face. He knows, 25 years on, he’s still got it, furthermore, they all still love it. Hamilton’s chugging basslines are only interrupted by a dodgy cable that twice has to be fixed before eventually being replaced. No harm done, it gives a usually timid Tim time to tell some tales of Kingston gigs gone by, such as the time their dressing room was in a strip club.

They are back in no time and of course they don’t play hard to get, the set is peppered, nay littered, with hits of yore. Goldfinger, Kung Fu, Oh Yeah, Shining Light, A Life Less Ordinary and gamer favorite Orpheus, which Tim wishes a happy 10th birthday, but is soon told by the ever sharp McMurray that it’s actually 14 years young!

Finishing with the undeniable classic Girl From Mars, they come back out to do a blazing version of Burn Baby Burn and – so rampant are the crowd – this writer finds himself up at the front barrier without even trying. But who could complain about being in a mosh-pit when the tunes are this good. Ash are back, but were they ever really gone?

In association with The Irish Jam.