Ash Tear It Up

Was our critic impressed by the Ash show? You decide.

I've been to plenty of good shows. I've even been to several

really good shows. Maybe once or twice I have been completely moved, and I

think one time I was incredibly impressed. But aside from my favorites,

Radiohead, I had never seen a live act that made me want to jump up and down

and just break out into fits of reckless abandon.

Until the past Monday

night.

Ash, the three-member pop outfit from Ireland, brought their brand

of rock 'n punk to San Francisco's Bottom of the Hill club Monday night (August

5) and left the sold-out crowd gasping and screaming for more. Singer Tim

Wheeler, looking a little older than his 19 years thanks to a slight-Liam-esque

beard, was the model punkster as he yanked and abused his silver guitar while

managing to sing every note on key. Bassist Mark Hamilton was just as

impressive. This guy is (excuse my language) fucking unbelievable. Hamilton

plays bass as if it were his second penis. The boy is so in touch with his

instrument that he can swoop all over the stage as if in a drunken haze, nearly

head-butt his bandmates and still crank it out with skilled

precision.

Wheeler and his mates literally ripped through 13 songs in just

over one hour. A bit overproduced on the album, songs like "Goldfinger" and

"Angel Interceptor" sounded incredibly raw and gut-wrenchingly powerful live.

These lads just know how to do it: every song was played with a complete

youthful energy that so many bands just can't convey to an audience. Their

style is going with the feel of the music, and letting their instruments take

over with no concern for image or presentation.

Now the crowd was pretty

outrageous as well. They had the gusto of a European football audience,

shouting, "Ireland! Ireland!" between every song. The infamous Euro "hop" was

favored over the traditional moshing (thanks be to fuck!) and beers were being

guzzled at an incredibly fast pace. Ash returned the gesture by dedicating

songs to Ireland's football team and hometown fans. The demand for an encore

was supplied by Wheeler's announcement that, "Last time we played here we

didn't get cheers for an encore...we were deeply hurt, so this is great." Then

the band played three more songs, including "Kung Fu," possibly the best song

on their current album, 1977.

So what else can I say except that Ash

kicks ass live. Spell-binding, sweat-inducing, heart-pumping and all of the

above. Quite a remarkable experience, and one that I will not soon forget.