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Live Review: Ash

Evergreen Irish power trio cause structural damage in West London.

One day after Ash hit the Shepherd’s Bush Empire stage to the reverberation of a (thankfully, taped) explosion, the venue will be shut down due to serious structural issues. How much this is down to the kings of the indie rock key change hammering the place a new asshole is anyone’s guess; at first, indeed, they seem more muted than usual.

A Life Less Ordinary and _Jack Names The Planets _lack their usual force-ten guitar gales and Tim Wheeler’s Flying V sounds like it’s been grounded. Perhaps it’s down to losing touring guitarist Russell Lissack to his former band Bloc Party. But with the opening notes of Kung Fu they’re cooking on plutonium again and riding the rush into Cocoon, the frenzied lead single from their latest album Kablammo!, that finds Wheeler wailing the falsetto chorus hook like a particularly melodic car alarm.

New songs like the funk epic Let’s Ride and the greaser rock tornado _Go! Fight! Win! _only add more colour to Ash’s scorch rock smorgasbord; fresh fuel to help launch Oh Yeah’s cute romance or the pop sunbursts of Orpheus, Shining Light and Girl From Mars. It’s the girl from Chiswick that steals the show tonight though; ex-guitarist Charlotte Hatherley rejoins the line-up for an encore of songs from her tenure – Meltdown, Walking Barefoot, Wildsurf, Burn Baby Burn – as well as a ponderous cover of Weezer’s Only In Dreams. By now Wheeler’s Flying V could conduct bombing raids on Syrian oilfields and Ash have virtually rocked the Empire to the ground. Ka-blammo!

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle (opens in new tab).