Ash are perhaps unfairly considered a blast from the past. Although we’re generations away from ‘Girl From Mars’, they’re still releasing music.
New album ‘Race The Night’ has been well-received by critics and it’s this new release that’s brought the three-piece back to the Barras.
Thanks to the football (don’t ask me who was playing…) we arrive just for the tail end of our openers. They go by the name of Jealous Nostril and I really hope they explained the name before we got into the room. From what I heard, though… some solid rock there. Occasionally a tint of old school metal to it and the drummer’s trousers are fantastic. This is why I hate football. It seemed the majority of our crowd were also held up as the openers played to a relatively small few hundred people.
The support tonight is The Subways… if you can call it a support slot. The show is billed as “Ash vs The Subways” and the set is longer than your average support. This is a band who hit their mainstream peak in the early 2000s but are very much a fantastic match for Ash. More garage oriented and raw, they’re another great example of a three-piece that are here to play their own sound. That sound is a dirty, rock n roll that harks back to when the likes of Jet and The Vines were everywhere. There’s something about Billy Lunn’s voice that has a grit to it that’s instantly likeable… as if the commercial rockers from that era drunk nothing but whisky and smoked twenty a day.
Although flying under the radar in terms of mainstream success, The Subways command the stage as if they’ve never left the height of their fame. Bass player Charlotte Cooper bounces all over the stage while the playing is undeniable. Newest addition Camille Phillips, who took over from founding drummer Josh Morgan a couple years ago, is tighter than a duck’s whatever and is pretty ferocious. By the end of the set you’d think this was The Subways’ headlining show with the singing along to -Rock N Roll Queen-.
All in, this a a decent set from a decent band and now the crowd are decently warmed up.
Enter Ash… instantly reminding us that Tim Wheeler’s Flying V guitar is as iconic as Brian May’s Red Special or Billy Joe’s ‘Blue’. The admittedly thin looking crowd are making up for the lack of numbers with noise.
The most remarkable thing about this set is that Tim Wheeler sounds exactly as he did back when the big hits were made. I can only assume he takes a vow of silence between tours and recording sessions.
There’s a lot of noise coming off this stage for three lads. The backbone of that is the distorted, three strung, bass of Mark Hamilton being hammered while he melts over the stage in rockstar poses that are fitting of the most punk low-ender.
Set wise… all the hits are present and correct with the new songs sprinkled in familiar to the crowd. Even those choosing to view from the side of the room dance along. The stage is primarily lit with the blues and purples of the album and tour artwork which brings an almost Tron futuristic feel to those tracks. A highlight for the crowd is definitely ‘Shining Light’, but that is predictable. It’s one of those songs that must be keeping the lights on for the band to this day. ‘Kung Fu’ gives the crowd plenty opportunity to join in with the “whoah-oh-oh”s and going straight into ‘Girl From Mars’ off the back of it creates the most energy of the night.
For the encore, The Subways join Ash on stage for ‘Oh Yeah Squared’… a reimagined version of two songs of the same name by each band which is now out as a 7 inch with both bands. ‘Burn Baby Burn’ is the finisher and by this point the Glasgow crowd are more than certain that tonight was a good idea.
Ash may not be playing venues bigger than this any time soon… or ever… but this is a band that’s never cared. Every time they come back they know they’re coming to a crowd that loves them and it shows in their performance.
‘Oh Yeah Squared’ is available now on Alcopop Records.
Photos by Catching Light Photography