Ash at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin, on November 10th 2016
There is some dispute among sociologists and historians as to the boundaries between Generations X and Y (or the Millennials, as they are most often labelled). Depending on who you listen to, the Millennial Generation began somewhere between 1977 and 1983. Safe to say then that many of the attendees at the Olympia Theatre to see Ash perform their debut LP from start to finish fall into that disputed six-year period which shall henceforth be known as Generation Ash. This is the generation who clearly remember the Heineken TV Ad which was one of the earliest, and most blatant, pieces of product placement for a band, featuring an Ash CD being loaded into a tray and Uncle Pat filling the room; the generation for whom Goldfinger and Oh Yeah featured on every mixtape; the generation for whom ‘1977’ was not only their earliest known year of origin, but one of the defining albums of their teenage years.
So, I think Tim Wheeler and co. will admit that they’re unlikely to get an easier crowd than this. The chief obstacle they face, and the issue with playing an album from start to finish no matter how great the album, is the lack of anticipation: everyone knows what song is coming next, so although a cheer rings out when the first chords of Girl From Mars sound, they are not as ecstatic as they would should this have appeared unexpectedly in the middle of a set.
The songs that sound the best are the least complicated: Goldfinger, Gone The Dream, Kung Fu, Lost In You and, of course, Oh Yeah, which brings the house down. Mark Hamilton haunts the right side of the stage, his huge frame lurching through each song as if it’s the first time they’ve played them. Rick McMurray looks less enthusiastic behind the kit, but he always seemed a bit indifferent.
With ‘1977’ wrapped up they decide to stoke the nostalgic flames with Jack Names The Planets and the litmus test for true fans, Sneaker, a b-side from the Goldfinger single. Then Does Your Mama Know, the Abba song, which seems better in concept than in delivery and, perhaps their best non-album track, A Life Less Ordinary. After the encore, Orpheus from ‘Meltdown’ is a surprising inclusion and an acknowledgement of the fact that this band are not dead and buried comes in the shape of Let’s Ride from last year’s brilliant ‘Kablammo!’. With ‘Free All Angels’ underrepresented thus far we knew we had to get Shining Light or Burn Baby Burn. Happily we got both.
There was an air of finality (surely not!) as the metaphorical curtain dropped and Tim, Mark and Rick took a bow. We’re already looking forward to the 40th Anniversary. Just twenty more years lads.