Review of Ash and the Imagineers (support) at the Ironworks, Inverness on the 16th of September 2011.
The news that Ash would be playing the Ironworks was released as part of the announcement that that they would be headlining the final night of Loopallu. Whilst there was some controversy in the Loopallu announcement, nobody could have argued that the potential for a cracking night in Inverness.
Support for the night came from The Imagineers, the Latin inspired Glasgow based quartet, who too were playing Loopallu, but were in-fact playing later the same evening at the Fringe and an early slot on the main stage on Saturday. You could not dispute the hardworking credentials of the band. Indeed, they announced that they would be returning to the Ironworks to support Kassidy in December.
The melodic tunes with the South American styling contrasted with the Glaswegian accents, with no better example than ‘So Dramatic’. The move towards a faster paced finale certainly increased the positive responses in the crowd, accumulating in ‘Marianna’.
As the crowd built for Ash, it could not be ignored that the size of audience was limited and the fact that it was an over 14 event brought a wry smile to our faces (you could have restricted access to over 24s and arguably over 34s and not notice much difference). The age of the audience,we suspect, says more about the state of the music business and airplay opportunities than it does the quality of the band.
The back drop to the stage was A to Z logo, harking back to the epic tour and series of releases that concluded last year.Indeed the recent gigs are a prelude to a forthcoming ‘Free all Angels’ tour to mark a new release of a greatest hits compilation.
The trio took the stage, following a space themed introduction, with a the heavy combination of guitars reminding the audience of the energy of earlier years. Charlotte Hatherley was the obvious omission given that her return to the band is planned for the forthcoming tour.
First song, ‘Lose Control’ flew straight into ’Girl from Mars’ which was a surprising choice to be played so early in the set. The anthem was played with the passion that brought emotions flowing back to the Nineties. The echo of feeling from the vocals to the guitars appeared stronger and more complete.
A well practised cover of The Undertones ‘Teenage Kicks’ , an improvised late addition to the set list,was seen as practise for Loopallu and emphasised the bands link to their fellow Northern Irishmen.
The loyalty of the crowd was striking, and evidenced by the playing of ‘Jack Names The Planets’ the first of the bands released single (and awaiting a re-recording for the compilation album). An enthusiastic throng formed and danced, whilst the rest were a little more reserved.
The epic tones of ‘Return of White Rabbit’ seen as a mark of their maturity and the challenging of barriers, an apt acknowledgement of the progression of the band and a fitting way to end the main set.
The encore, and the evening, was ended by a knowing nod from Mark to Tim and the subsequent was the second single from ‘Free All Angels’, ‘Burn Baby Burn’. Given the significance of the album and the forthcoming tour, a most appropriate point to end.
The term ‘Power Pop’ has certainly been resurgent and lacks the previously negative connotations, but Ash have clearly grown comfortable in the genre and absolutely not in a negative way. The consistency of the band gave them the ability to blast through hits and less well known material with a relentlessness of approach and style. Ash will win over the naysayers when they play Loopallu, no doubt.
By Chris Lemon
Many thanks to the Ironworks staff, McIntosh Photography and Ash
Ps Further photographs can be seen on our Facebook page.