Oh yeah, it was the start of the summer. Ash are back in town, and their verses reflect the weather. Holland hasn't seen any rain for a month now, and summer isn't to begin for another two months. A great excuse to go and see one of the better bands of the UK post-grunge era on a Tuesday night, I'd say.
Opening up in the small hall of the Melkweg in Amsterdam were The Enemy. Having played London Calling, it could be billed as one of the many promising British bands that flock the rock scene nowadays. With a nice no-nonsense approach, these young lads fired a song or six at the audience. With a subtle success.
Somehow it just seems wrong to bill a band like Ash in the small hall. The band that has played almost every main stage of every festival in Europe, not to mention one exhausting world tour after the other, or their teaming up with U2 at their last world tour. Maybe it has to do with the fact that there's a new generation of bands coming up that are grasping the attention, maybe Tuesday nights aren't ideal for rock shows, or maybe it has to do with Ash's rollercoaster career that has taken them to every angle of success, from the main stages at the festivals to the humbling return to their parent's garage at the beginning of the century due to a lack of funds. Whatever it is that kept them from filling a bigger venue tonight, it can't be the band or it's songs. A point Ash were about to make.
Opening up with the sublime 'Burn Baby Burn' got a good portion of the crowd singing along. Same goes for 'Angel Interceptor'. Kicking in the new single ‘You Can’t Have It All’, proved not only that the new album is definitely worth buying or downloading, but also that the band didn't just go for a meagre best-of set list. Personally I have a tendencies to get mildly disappointed when bands are reluctant to play new material at the eve of their new release. It somewhat gives away that the new album isn't worth getting excited about. Luckily ‘You Can’t Have It All’ sounds promising, and has the potential of becoming quite a hit if radio stations pick it up. Throughout the set a couple of new songs were played, like their follow-up single 'Polaris' (sounds even more promising with the potential of becoming an absolute live smash), but in the end chills were sent down my spine when hearing the first notes of grunge classics such as 'Goldfinger', 'Girl From Mars' and 'Oh Yeah'. A smile turns up on my face during the more poppy material, 'Walking Barefoot' is one of my all-time mp3-player classics, and the more rough-edged stuff like 'Vampire Love' and 'Angel Interceptor' still proves their versatility with a sound that would fit the band right into the Foo Fighters or Queens Of The Stone Age catalogue.
Photos by Lucas Eikemans - www.srb96.com
A remarkable change in the band is the absence of second guitarist Charlotte Hatherley something that is hardly noticeable. Furthermore it seems the band has regained power with the return to the three-piece line-up. That in effect, makes the band an absolute joy to watch. The exciting set list ends with the monumental title track of the upcoming album 'Twilight Of The Innocent', a monster of a song with allure that reminds one of Muse. It's a testament to the bands broad sound.
After that it's a quick break before returning for the encore that ends with a enthusiastic crowd response to their classic mega hit 'Kung Fu', from their breakthrough record 1977. All one can do at that time is just keep on smiling. It seems Ash is back without ever leaving. Someone book them onto the main stages again. Boy, is it the start of the summer or what?
The Enemy brings a good full sound with fast songs, of which the trademark British rock sound (a nice sturdy beat) was dominant. Nothing new, but proving to have plenty of room for growing into a next best thing. Or a next-to-next best thing. Until then it reminds one just a tad too much of the Arctic Monkeys.