Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
Burn Baby Burn
Ash and Kestrals at Lee’s Palace in Toronto
Frank YangIf there’s any lessons a band can take from Ash, first and foremost would be a) to never mind fashion and stick to what you do well, and b) to get started young. The benefits of both of these points were on display Saturday night when the Northern Irish trio rolled into Lee’s Palace for their first Toronto show in seven years. To the former, they had a massive and impressive repertoire of high-energy, ultra-melodic punk/metal-laced pop to draw from and to the former, well if you’re so fortunate to be celebrating your twentieth anniversary as a band then you would probably want to be has as young and spry as the 35-year old Tim Wheeler, even with the flecks of grey in his beard.
While I can think of some acts I’d have rather seen open for Ash – former guitarist Charlotte Hatherley, say, or Wheeler’s girlfriend Emmy The Great – Halifax’s Kestrels were more than fine as well. As I wrote in July, their debut A Ghost History has more than enough ’90s-vintage college rock/shoegaze DNA in it to be a good fit, and there was even a formal connection what with Wheeler making a guest guitar appearance on the record. As is not unusual for bands of their ilk, their live show was exceedingly loud, and many of the pop-friendly nuances on the record were smothered with distortion and volume. The rhythm section, with its thick, fuzzy bass chords and nimble, 16th-note drumming, was an effective balance of heavy and agile and Chad Peck’s guitar leads were less melodic lines than bursts of noise run through a wah pedal. They probably could have done themselves a favour by turning down just a bit, but their enthusiasm was warranted – it was their last show of the year after touring heavily in support of their album and as Peck noted, Ash was his favourite band since forever so getting to open for them – and then take over Wheeler’s guitar roadie duties later – made for a pretty unique experience. If ever there was a night to leave it all on stage, it was this. And they did. Loudly.
Though chronologically, Ash fit right into the first wave of Britpop, I never really thought of them as such – and not just because Northern Ireland isn’t technically part of Britain, so the genre was a misnomer anyways. No, it was more their youthful energy and punkier inclinations didn’t really fit with the sort of Anglo sophistication that I wanted from the likes of Blur or Pulp, and so while I appreciated the singles I heard over the years, I didn’t start making up the lost time until recently. Definitely in time to thoroughly enjoy their show, though. Obviously feeling no inclination to be difficult, the set was wall-to-wall hits – both actual and should have beens – drawn from throughout their career but focusing largely on their 1996 debut 1977 with appropriate consideration given to 2001′s Free All Angels and 2004′s Meltdown, and ranging from the relatively gentle “Shining Light” to the positively raging “Clones”. And while not sold out, the show was well-attended with no small number of Irish fans and not singing along with anthems such as “Goldfinger” or “Girl From Mars” was simply not an option. They also drew heavily from their recent ambitious A-Z singles series – the triple vinyl North American release ostensibly the reason for the tour – and tracks like “Arcadia” and “Binary” proving that even after twenty years, their simple formula of riff and melody – and recently, the occasional electronic flourish – still pays tremendous dividends.
As you would expect a band with as many years and miles under their belts as Ash, they were unbelievably polished and powerful, bassist Mark Hamilton not missing a not while striking body-contorting rock poses through the whole night and Wheeler, when not singing, was bounding around the stage and confirming that the road case oddly placed front and centre stage was indeed for jumping on and rocking out. And after nineteen songs and 90 minutes, it was also the place for the trio to stand up and take a well-earned bow.
Oh, one more lesson bands can take from Ash? Flying Vs rawk.
Photos: Ash, Kestrels @ Lee’s Palace – November 17, 2012
MP3: Ash – “Return Of White Rabbit”
MP3: Ash – “Burn Baby Burn”
Video: Ash – “Carnal Love”
Video: Ash – “Binary”
Video: Ash – “Kamakura”
Video: Ash – “The Creeps”
Video: Ash – “War With Me”
Video: Ash – “Neon”
Video: Ash – “Ichiban”
Video: Ash – “Space Shot”
Video: Ash – “Pripyat”
Video: Ash – “Tracers”
Video: Ash – “Arcadia”
Video: Ash – “Joy Kicks Darkness”
Video: Ash – “True Love 1980″
Video: Ash – “Return Of White “
Video: Ash – “End Of The World”
Video: Ash – “Polaris”
Video: Ash – “You Can’t Have It All”
Video: Ash – “I Started A Fire”
Video: Ash – “Renegade Cavalcade”
Video: Ash – “Starcrossed”
Video: Ash – “Orpheus”
Video: Ash – “Clones”
Video: Ash – “There’s A Star”
Video: Ash – “Candy”
Video: Ash – “Sometimes”
Video: Ash – “Burn Baby Burn”
Video: Ash – “Shining Light”
Video: Ash – “Warmer Than Fire”
Video: Ash – “Wildsurf”
Video: Ash – “A Life Less Ordinary”
Video: Ash – “Oh Yeah”
Video: Ash – “Goldfinger”
Video: Ash – “Angel Interceptor”
Video: Ash – “Girl From Mars” (US)
Video: Ash – “Girl From Mars” (UK)
Video: Ash – “Kung Fu”
Video: Ash – “Uncle Pat”
Video: Kestrels – “The Past Rests”
Video: Kestrels – “There All The Time Without You”
Here’s one to file under “happy coincidences”. Just yesterday morning, I was listening to The Joy Formidable and thinking that it had been too long since I saw them live, having skipped their show in April and also planning to give next Sunday night’s support slot for The Gaslight Anthem a pass. And then, lo and behold, they announce a last-minute headline gig at The Mod Club for next Monday, November 26. It’s a free show as part of CFNY’s holiday concert series, so head to theedge.ca for details on how to win tickets. Expect to hear material from their new album Wolf’s Law, out January 22.
Kate Nash has announced her Death Proof EP will indeed be out this Fall as promised – as of right now, in fact. DIY has details on the release, which will be out on November 19, and Consequence Of Sound has some specifics on Nash’s third studio album, entitled Girl Talk and targeted for a March 2013 release. Spin talks to her about her new video for the title track of the new EP.
Video: Kate Nash – “Death Proof”
Played the new Veronica Falls track to death already? Head over to They Shoot Music where the band play a live version for a video session in addition to an old song. The new album Waiting For Something To Happen is out February 12.
The first track from Foals’ new album Holy Fire, out February 12, is now available to download.
MP3: Foals – “Inhaler”
Esben & The Witch are also giving away the first teaser of their second album Wash The Sins Not Only The Face, out January 21.
Wired reports that Beautiful Noise, the documentary film on the shoegazing movement featuring interviews with many principals of the scene that has seemingly been in production forever, is finally finished and turning to Kickstarter to fund its distribution. $25 gets you a copy of the DVD… and you know you want it.
Trailer: Beautiful Noise