Ash at Whelans, Dublin, 08 June 2015
After the experimental ‘A-Z Series’ which saw Ash discarding the traditional album format, as well as integrating synths into their sound, the band return with the much more conventional ‘Kablammo!’ Packed with the exciting power-pop tunes that earned Ash major success in the earlier part of their career, ‘Kablammo!’ (reviewed here) is a great album, and a sell-out crowd at Whelans got to witness first-hand how well the new tunes are incorporated into the set.
The instrumental Evil Knievel slams right into the show, before Ash launch straight into the brilliant Cocoon, featuring one of the most insanely catchy vocals of Ash’s career. Jack Names The Planets completes a hard-hitting 1,2,3, in what is a frenzied and exciting opening segment.
The new tracks continue to impress throughout with Go! Fight! Win! sounding absolutely massive, and excreting energy out of every pore. The slow-burning Free impresses by peeling back a layer of the fevered excitement that consumes most Ash tracks, but without losing any intensity. Free generates more space then we’re used to in an Ash track, especially in the solo, but it sounds mega. Let’s Ride is a super-charged beast of a track that features an enormous chorus and the usual bucket-load of catchiness that we expect from Ash.
Interspersed among these new tracks, the band smash through several fan favourites, with Goldfinger and Kung-Fu standing out as significant performances. The band are all about the fan favourites tonight, indulging the crowd by listening to their requests and supplying Angel Interceptor, Walking Barefoot and Petrol by popular demand. Walking Barefoot in particular is fantastic, with Wheeler spitting out outrageous riffs, ripping solos and an extended outro.
An interesting dilemma – which occasionally presents issues for Ash – is the fact that a large chunk of their career featured a second guitarist. Evil Eye and A Life Less Ordinary bear no ill effects in this setting, but Shining Light and especially Orpheus would benefit greatly from the extra power of another guitar. These tunes are far from poor, but do lack some of the impact that they carry on record. Twilight Of The Innocents features a backing track containing piano and string parts, and it does help add depth to this deep, grand track, but the outro section feels overly-structured and a bit formulaic. Ash don’t really do chaotic guitar freakouts, but it might have fitted in well here.
Return Of White Rabbit grooves hard during the encore, with an absolutely monstrous bassline driving the song forward. Effects are piled onto Wheeler’s vocals for the lengthy outro, and synths aplenty make an appearance, making for a powerful track, quite unlike anything else the band do.
Teenage Kicks, always a quality tune, also features in the encore, and while it’s delivered with the usual level of passion, the band don’t really add anything particularly Ash-like to this cover. Still, Burn Baby Burn closes out the set in a vibrant fashion, and Ash have proved not only that their new tracks are classics in the making, but that their back catalogue is jam-packed with stunning hits. Most importantly of all, they all sound great.