Live: Ash

Returning Downpatrick chart-botherers charm their pledgers.

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Musicians – irregardless of stature – have always had to kowtow to various incarnations of ‘the man’ to keep themselves in plectra and studio time.

From wiggy baroque stropster Mozart’s obligation to knock up occasional masses to keep Colloredo’s florins flowing, to The Clash surlily accepting an upfront 100 grand in exchange for turning rebellion into filthy lucre for CBS, money’s always talked significantly louder than Marshall stacks.

Times have changed, but the principle remains the same: financing an album via fan-generated ‘advances’ on PledgeMusic means bands of Ash’s stature are now obliged to jump through hoops held by grateful fans rather than corporate sponsors. Hence an event like Ash Wednesday’s first, a self-conscious afternoon performance where fans and band seem similarly perplexed by their new roles as employers and employees respectively. Ash play five acoustic songs in intimate RAK surroundings for those who’ve contributed reasonably significant upfront wedge for their imminent Kablammo! collection.

It’s fun, if a bit awkward, but Tim grins engagingly and Jack Names The Planets’ naivety only ever charms. The evening’s ‘secret’ Barfly show finds Ash on terrific form. Rare newbies come across as punk thrashes, but an anthemic hits set leaves artists and sponsors in a shared sweaty embrace of sheer, empathetic joy, the like of which Joe Strummer never, ever shared with Maurice Oberstein.

Ian Fortnam

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 20 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.