Ash, The Black Tokens
This will be a make-or-break year for Ash, but if their performance in Belfast was anything to go by, they've got nothing to worry about.
Fellow locals The Black Tokens, with their own brand of indie rock and roll, took to the stage at the Spring and Airbrake to provide support on the night. Lead singer Niall Graham commanded the front line with style, and even brought out his Liam Gallgher-esque tambourine occasionally, as the band cruised through their set of Stonesey rock, much to the crowd's delight.
Then it was on to the main course as the crowd geared up a notch for Tim, Rick and Mark. They started into the rip-roaring, pop delights of �Burn Baby Burn', a song I defy anyone not to feel energised by. Already the memories of Charlotte had been erased from the minds of the collective, as they laid into �You Can Have It All'.
Tim looked confidently at the crowd, eyes wide open as he stepped forward, his often underappreciated guitar skills on show and audible to everyone during those key moments of �Orpheus'. Old, familiar favourites were rolled out after each new song, showing the impressive catalogue of pop/rock hits the band has amassed over the last decade. New single �Polaris' is another power ballad gem, and the title track �Twilight Of The Innocents' (a fantastic six minute plus epic filled with synths and wonderfully indulgent guitar solos) was used to close the first part of the set.
The boys finished their encore with �Kung Fu', which left the crowd buzzing and almost jumping the barrier with elation. The band then waved farewell, the lights slowly came up, and the exhausted audience moved around in a zombified state.
Ash showed that even with a "man down" and reaching the ripe old age of 30, they are still a significant force in the business, and Rick is still the sexiest drummer in the world today - fact!
Photos by Alan Maguire www.livemusicpics.com