Yesterday was a mad mad day in London. After being a bit overwhelmed in the new Westfield mall in Stratford (it's the biggest shopping centre I've ever seen) I was off on my way to Kentish Town to check out the soundcheck for my favourite band of all time, Ash. Since I don't get to see them live very often, I forked out for a VIP ticket which included the soundcheck, meet & greet, the concert and an after party. (and a t-shirt and a couple of old singles with some cool B-sides and a pin and a fancy laminate that was cool to flash around)
The soundcheck was cool, they played my second favourite song!
After that was the awkward time where you stand around waiting for an opportunity to get something signed and have a quick chat with the band...and they were all lovely. It must be so odd having to make random conversation with complete strangers who know all about you. Rick (the drummer) was chatting about his newborn baby
Mark (bass) was trying to extricate himself from an intense discussion with another fan
Charlotte (guitar, keyboard, vocals) who left the band a few years ago, but reunited with them for this tour, was simply one cool chick
and Tim (lead guitar, vocals), my rock idol was overrun with other people so I didn't really get to talk to him at all!
Between the soundcheck a little group wandered down to get some dinner and it was lovely chatting to people who'd come from Reading and Newcastle, but also Sweden and Finland!! And then back to the venue where we got to flash our VIP laminates to jump the queue (unfortunately the queue wasn't very long) and the first support band were The VIRGINMARYS.
They were a lot rockier than I usually listen to, but geez they were good. The lead singer has some serious pipes and the drummer was quite the showman...you may notice the gong in the middle of the stage, it got quite a beating in one song. I couldn't understand a word the singer was saying, but I've been humming a certain riff all morning.
Futures were next, and they were also really good...I could understand some of the lyrics! They were definitely more melodic with some lovely harmonies and their set seemed to be over too quickly. But none of us had come to see them, the feeling in the crowd was electric! And my friend Adam showed up just in time.
Ash were playing their "Free All Angels" album in its entirety, plus a best of set, so it was a total showtime of an hour and 45 minutes. Super! Free All Angels is a brilliant album with some kick ass singles, but also a number of tracks they'd never played live before this tour, so it was interesting to hear them live. What I love about watching Ash live is how much fun they appear to be having - the 3 guys formed the band when they were teenagers (if not before) and in their mid-30s now they've been together for a long time. And yet, they just look like they're having a ball. And Charlotte is awesome - if I'd actually been a good guitar player, I would've wanted to grow up to be just like her...hell, I still want to grow up to be just like her! :-)
The 'best of' set was insane. I kept hitting Adam on the leg every time a new song started, as they seemed to be playing all of my favourites (and I guess, everyone else's favourites too!) From memory (and in no particular order), A Life Less Ordinary, Girl From Mars, Goldfinger, Oh Yeah, Kung Fu, Wildsurf, Projects (I think), Warmer than Fire (with the guy who wrote it coming out on stage to sing it, VERY different to Tim's version!), Starcrossed, and Orpheus. There are not enough superlatives to sum up what was the best Ash show I've seen!!
The after party was a bit weird really. I hung out with my new friends and one of the guys was pointing out local 'celebrities': radio hosts, other bands - all people I'd never heard of! It was fun meeting different people from around the world, talking about random things and having a laugh, but it was a bit awkward!
If you've never heard Ash and have somehow made it to the end of this post, then (a) I hope my enthusiasm has swayed you to check them out and (b) go and check out their official website.
And now, it's time to go home for the first time since I left for Liberia in April - got a jam packed schedule of social engagements to get through in the first two weeks, can't wait!!