Ash, Koko, London, June 2007
Friend visiting from New Zealand and determined to go to a gig… so Ash it was, so it was. I had only seen them at Glastonbury years back when they were scratching out their heavier side with Nu-Clear Sounds, so was keen to see them at Koko. It was packed. As we were catching up as well as there for the gig, we settled upstairs so we could have a drink and see the band, and we eventually settled at the front edge of the first level, with a great view down onto the band. That place really is a Muppet Theatre, all the boxes, split levels, gilt edging… I was constantly waiting for Statler & Waldorf to leer out and heckle. I think Ash were kind of calling it a day at this stage (though that proved to be not permanent), so seeing them bash out all those past hits seemed to take on a little urgency because they had been a key band over that era where grunge died, and BritPop had its seizure and died… ’course they were really not part of either, but around at the time. ‘Girl From Mars’. ‘Oh Yeah’, ‘Goldfinger’, ‘Kung Fu’, ‘Shinig Light’ - they played them all, and it was ll pretty sing-along. Very cool. Definitely a harking back to early-20s flats and summertimes. And who doesn’t romanticise and catalogue those days through music? No compilation of guitar music documenting teh mid- to late- 90s would be complete without some of those tracks. I love NuClear Sounds. I felt with it they left the sloppy drunken pop behind a bit and that extra edge (and extra guitar of Charlotte Hartherley’s) gave them some balls. However, I don’t think it was a widely popular album. Still, it sounded good in a field in 1999! And ‘Burn, Baby, Burn!’ from Free All Angels was a kick-arse single. Loved it. Ach, too many pop classics here – Ash really could pen a tunes with Undertones-like stickability. I reckon I’ll pick ‘Kung Fu’ just for its sheer dumbness and catchiness… 2:19 of three chord bliss. I do remember it as the soundtrack to outtakes at the end of a Jackie Chan movie.