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Gig review of Ash

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Reviewed on 4th September 2015.

 
 

Ash

Live at Leeds Festival 2015 on Sunday, 30th August 2015

Alexisonfire and Royal Blood bring two of the biggest crowds to the main stage on the final day of Leeds Festival 2015. Alexisonfire are enjoying renewed interest, announcing their festival reunion shows in March this year, after a much publicised 2012 break up. Judging by the size and reaction of the crowd, as well as the intensity of their set, band and audience are relieved that the split was comparatively short lived. Kicking into gear with Accidents from their sophomore album Watch Out!, the reconvened quintet justified getting the band back together with a high-octane showcase of their best work. Dallas Green, who also flexes his solo acoustic muscles as City and Colour, seems happy to be back with his bandmates and giving his guitar and vocals a punishing post-hardcore workout. Notable highlights include Old Crows, Drunks, Lovers, Saints And Sinners, and bombastically dark set closer This Could Be Anywhere In The World.

Later in the day, Royal Blood arrive to demonstrate that having only one album under your belt is no barrier to playing a satisfying and competent main stage set. The critically lauded duo offer a slice of Brighton rock, and the crowd readily accepts. B-side and eventual album track Come On Over gets things going. Although the set is short, it's filled with what Jimmy Page rightfully described as 'music of tremendous quality'. Upcoming Foo Fighters support slots will do wonders for their craft and stage presence, but as they prove with the huge sounding Little Monster and new tune Hook, Line And Sinker, they have so much of those already it will be a wonder if anyone notices improvement. As final song Out Of The Black morphs into a cover of Black Sabbath's Iron Man, it's easy to conclude that the future of blues rock and Royal Blood are both safely secured.

Over at The Pit stage, heavy cult heroes Baroness take a small but perfectly formed crowd on a short yet blistering tour through the primary colours of rock. Taking material from their Yellow & Green, Blue Record and Red Album, the band are lead by vocalist and guitarist John Baizley through an impassioned set that builds in intensity, mirroring the songs it features. Pounding drums and Muse meets meets Queen guitar riffs come together in five songs of sludge metal madness, and there's a sense that if Baroness were swapped out for Metallica on the main stage, no one would mind, and everyone might even have a better time.

It falls to The Wombats and Lucy Rose to say goodbye to Leeds for another year in the Festival Republic tent, but Ash come before them in a bizarre billing decision. There's a sense that lots of people - including the band - feel like they should be headlining, but that only galvanises Tim Wheeler and co into proving that they are the best contenders to take on the might of Metallica, even if the line up says otherwise. The result is a show as energetic and hit-packed as Leeds Festival has ever seen, beginning with a triple whammy of Kung Fu, Cocoon, and Oh Yeah. Given that it ends with the triple whammy of Shining Light, Girl From Mars and of course, Burn Baby Burn there's really no chance of messing things up in the middle either, and Ash - a lean, mean three piece again since the exit of Charlotte Hatherley a decade ago - certainly don't, barrelling at full pelt through tracks Machinery and Orpheus. The band seem to appear and disappear in the blink of an eye, leaving the crowd and themselves a little dazed. But with an Ash gig, much like Leeds Festival itself, there's already anticipation for the next one hanging in the air;

 

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Ash