O2 Forum Kentish Town, London
Sunday 18th September 2022
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ASH – LONDON – LIVE REVIEW
Disillusioned and close to bankruptcy, it is fair to say that 2001’s ‘Free All Angels’, was a make or break record for Ash. Whilst debut album, ‘1977’, had hit the number one spot and made the band a household name, sophomore release, ‘Nu-Clear Sounds’ had seen the bands momentum stall.
Having seemingly hit rock bottom, a refreshed approach saw the band write and record what would be their saving grace, ‘Free All Angels’. Returning the band to the top of the charts, and serving as a springboard to greater success, it is again fair comment to say that the album rescued the group’s career.
This week has seen the band celebrate the 21st Anniversary of the album with three very special shows. Rejoined by guitarist Charlotte Hatherley, who departed the band in 2006, Ash have played the album in full first in Manchester, then Birmingham and finally tonight at the O2 Forum Kentish Town in London.
On the eve of the funeral for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, there is a perfectly observed minutes silence at 8pm.
Shortly thereafter opening act The Gulps take to the stage and do a suitable job of raising spirits and getting those in attendance ready for our headliners.
WATCH ‘SHINING LIGHT’ ON YOUTUBE
A mighty roar greets Ash and particularly Hatherley to the stage and the band proceed to play the entirety of ‘Free All Angels’. The quality of the record is borne out with opening trio, ‘Walking Barefoot’, ‘Shining Light’ and ‘Burn Baby Burn’, with even frontman Tim Wheeler commenting on the run.
The singles, naturally, played a large role in the success of the album but it is the overall quality that ensures that remains as revered today as when released in 2001. ‘Candy’, ‘Someday’, ‘Sometimes’ and ‘There’s A Star’ are all glorious before ‘World Domination’ brings the run though to a close.
This doesn’t end the evening however as Wheeler quips about making the most of their time with Hatherley, before introducing the first song that they worked on together, ‘A Life Less Ordinary’.
Ash are a fine live act, but tonight the addition of Hatherley really ratchets things up a notch or two. The added layers and intricacies level up the band and the likes of ‘Goldfinger’, ‘Orpheus’ and ‘Clones’ sound absolutely huge tonight.
Towards the end of the night the band break out tracks such as ‘Numbskull’, ‘Kung Fu’ and ‘Girl From Mars’ much to the delight of the audience.
WATCH ‘BURN BABY BURN’ ON YOUTUBE
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Tonight has been a reflection of a period of time not just for Ash but in British music. It’s an evening drenched in nostalgia but for those in the venue it’s all about the immediacy of the performance. It’s only fitting that a final airing of ‘Burn Baby Burn’ closes out what has been a successful celebration of a truly great album.
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