Ash - Oh Yeah, Belfast
#ASH20: Ash and Wonder Villains
Oh Yeah Centre
Friday the 15th June 2012
We’re not sure who, if anyone, to expect as support tonight. It’s a delight then to see four Wonder Villains take to the stage in the Oh Yeah Centre. They launch straight in to their trade mark joy pop and engage the crowd from the off. This is a talented bunch who seem to be getting better with each gig. Wonder Villains are a musical party on the stage and a real pleasure to watch live. It may just be me getting to know the material better, or it may be the sound quality tonight which is clear and on the button, but the songs seem to have developed a welcome punch. There is a solid core of rock rhythm driving the mini pop anthems on. Staples such as Party In Japan and Zola keep the show bouncing and, to their credit, half an hour seems way too short when the set closes. A delight.
The crowd are well warmed up for the main act when Ash take to the stage. 'A Life Less Ordinary' is played early in the show, and gloriously drifts straight in to 'Goldfinger'. The set is a total crowd pleaser, rocking out the highlights of the Ash back catalogue, from early single 'Jack Names The Planets' through to 'Arcadia' and 'Return of the White Rabbit' from the A to Z series. The usual big hitters stand out and get the crowd in full bounce and singing along - 'Kung Fu', 'Girl from Mars' and 'Oh Yeah' being particularly on fire.
Fittingly, for a band playing in a venue named after one of their songs, Ash own the place for the night.
Such is the quality of the Ash catalogue that despite two hours of music there are still old favourites that don’t get aired. The more recent tracks such as 'Evil Eye' and the A to Z songs blend perfectly into the feel of the older material, and are becoming Ash classics in their own right.
They're here to celebrate and to connect with their roots and a shout out goes to the school mate in the crowd who was the link to Uncle Pat. Later Terry Hooley, the Grand Old Man of Northern Irish rock, takes to the stage and Bronagh Gallagher joins Ash to belt out a thumping version of Teenage Kicks.
A little bit of riffing about fills a minute or two to hit the birthday celebration moment of midnight. Happy Birthday starts spontaneously from the crowd and the band rip to a close with 'Burn Baby Burn'. The Oh Yeah Centre can lay claim to a memorable gig.