Ash, Tuesday October 1, 1996

Metropolis Concert Club, Fremantle

You could say that the Australian tour for Ash started at Monday’s ARIA awards. This Irish teenage supergroup were there, presenting an award on a night littered with examples of Australia’s own youth-orientated heroes You Am I and Regurgitator reclaiming contemporary ground. Just as Ash did when they dethroned Alanis Morissette off top spot on debut in the UK, and just as their opening show in Perth furthered the worldwide reclamation of youthful contemporary music with an utterly rewarding show of their own.

Because as the three teens emerged from backstage, with nary a facial hair, and launched into their 1977 album-opener, Lose Control, the frontline hordes knew the score to all of their popular and semi-obscure noodlings, a glory usually afforded to veterans rather than nineteen year old wunderkids.

With stage presence reflecting their exhausting worldwide touring schedule and the bashfulness of peer adoration, to their credit Messrs Wheeler, Hamilton and McMurray had only to utter several heavily-accented words to draw screams and had only to roll off hit after hit after hit to send the crowd airborne.

And where other, more prolific bands have to stave off the “big hit singles” until the closing stages, Ash – soley on the power of their mini-album Trailer and their UK number one debut album, 1977 – simply had to configure their eight chart-storming singles into a palatable pattern amongst the almost and soon-to-be hits.

From the blindingly fast sonic sugarpop of Angel Interceptor and Girl From Mars, to renditions of the epics Goldfinger and Oh Yeah, Tim Wheeler vaulted the value of his songwriting and guitar/vocal songsmithery up high to a mantle shared by both lovelorn youth and loud pop rockers. And while the cleanliness of the Owen Morris (Oasis) produced 1977 was an impossible pinnacle to aspire to in the live scenario, their many hits still rang true, even with a little jet lag.

As older songs like Chase The Dream mixed it with their closing crescendo of Does Your Mother Know? (the Abba cover found on the B-side of the Oh Yeah single) and the rhyming, writhing Kung Fu, there was precious little material left to draw upon for this band in their already-prodigious infancy. Short on pushing the boundaries with another appearance and an attempt to woo the baying crowd with an unknown quantity, Ash would have slept well on their laurels … or trashed another hotel room for fun, depending on which English press you read.