Itâ€™s more than a decade since Ash were at the height of their Britpop fame. And looking around a packed KOKOâ€™s you can tell. Twenty-something grown up Britpop fans have swapped their adidas gazelles and zip-up tops for more sensible work attire. Theyâ€™ve come to tonightâ€™s gig straight from work rather than their local. Post-smoking ban, thereâ€™s a strong stale-beer stench at KOKO but it makes things a little less hazy than 1995.
As if to confirm that, support band Wry take to the stage. Hailing from Brazil, theyâ€™re a welcome addition to the current indie scene. Front man Mario has great stage presence while his bandmates have a kind of enigmatic South American cool. Ashâ€™s Tim Wheeler produced the Sao Paulo bandâ€™s third album Flames in the Head. And songs like â€˜Cancerâ€™ have Wheelerâ€™s signature indie-punk edge that made Ash big in the mid 1990s.
Thankfully when Ash get on stage themselves, they play plenty of their old stuff which sends the crowd of ageing Britpoppers and a few puzzled teens pogoing like their life depended on it. It only feels a little strange that former guitarist Charlotte Hatherley isnâ€™t about on songs like â€˜Angel Interceptorâ€™ and â€˜A Life Less Ordinaryâ€™. But highlights â€˜A Girl From Marsâ€™ and encore â€˜Burn Baby Burnâ€™ are played with as much youthful energy and abandon as the good old days.
Tonightâ€™s also about giving the crowd a feel for current album, Twilight Of The Innocents. Itâ€™s supposed to be their final album, not a goodbye but the three-piece will start releasing singles online only. New songs like the title track and single â€˜You Canâ€™t Have it Allâ€™ add a bit of spice to the old Ash hits. And lead single â€˜Polarisâ€™, brings a bit of maturity to the occasion. But not too much. Wheeler still doesnâ€™t look a day over 25 and even though thereâ€™s sweat pouring from the guy at close of play, heâ€™s definitely still got it.