Though they may no longer enjoy the popularity gained by debut album '1977' or career-resurrecting 'Free All Angels', Ash's recent 'Islands' album had more than enough to keep them from heritage act territory. Tonight's appearance in the Calder valley is part of a small run of shows breaking up their more commonly experienced festival sets.
With the clock having comfortably passed half past nine before the band hit the stage in front of the modest capacity of around a couple of hundred, you'd be forgiven for thinking the trio might take it easy. Not a chance. A 23-song curfew-breaking set sees them through as if they've a crowd a hundred times larger, yet enjoying the intimacy of a setting in which the crowd are rammed up to the stage. Finer cuts from their latest release, including 'Confessions By The Pool', 'Annabelle' and 'All That I Have Left', sit comfortably in a career-spanning performance of hits and favourites; the likes of 'A Life Less Ordinary' and 'Kung Fu' encouraging a fevered atmosphere.
Fevered being the operative word because it is soon clear the fans are relishing the chance to see Ash in such a setting. The energy is reciprocated on stage; Tim Wheeler's shirt soon looking like it has been through a monsoon and drummer Rick McMurray using song gaps to fan himself. The rhythm section, completed by the never-static Mark Hamilton, twice takes leave from stage for unconfirmed reports of vomiting, much to the amusement of Wheeler. The frontman is most at ease in the sweltering sweatbox, photo-bombing audience members and casually talking to the crowd. He laughs off an ear-splitting intro-chord to 'Sometimes' as they continue to rattle out the likes of 'Shining Light', 'Jesus Says' and 'Orpheus', the latter of which gives McMurray the chance to smash his drum set to within a beat of destruction. Their signature tunes, of course, remain as 'Girl From Mars' and 'Burn Baby Burn', which enthral as much now as they did upon release many years ago. Tonight, they top off a perfect storm between band, audience and venue, resulting in a show which will live long in the memories of those in attendance.