30 years? Did Ash get together in school? Well, yes, but I was thinking Primary School or Nursery School. Surely they can’t be that old?
Believe it or not, it has been 30 years since Ash formed, so they headed to Ulster Hall to do a celebratory concert.
Exactly a year to the day since their 25th anniversary concert at The Limelight.
Probably should have paid attention in Maths instead of forming a band.
Well, there is a simple explanation for that.
The concert in December 2021 had been delayed by eighteen months from the Summer of 2020, and was originally to celebrate a quarter of a century since they first released music.
When they have a concert in Belfast in December, it gets informally labelled The Ash Christmas Bash.
This was my fourth such Bash, having attended in 2015, 2018 and 2021, although the 2021 wasn’t originally scheduled for that month, or even that year.
You will have noticed they are triennial, so I wasn’t expecting another one until 2024, but such a milestone deserves a rewriting of the unwritten rule.
One thing that is guaranteed at The Ash Christmas Bash is chaos. If you love chaos, then this is the concert for you.
There was the added bonus with the late announcement that this would be filmed and broadcast live on the BBC website and made available in audio on BBC Sounds.
If you want to, you can watch it here.
As showtime approached, Gemma Bradley appeared on stage with her back to the crowd to do an introductory piece to camera, then we heard The A-Team Theme over the speakers, but not as we know it.
Seemingly, in 1977, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit, and relocated to Downpatrick.
We were then treated to a cover version of Flash by Queen, except it was “ASH!!!! SAVIOURS OF THE UNIVERSE!!!!!”
I would genuinely love it if they recorded this version and performed it live.
You could tell it was a big night as Tim turned up in a blazer, although this was dumped a few songs in. Mark’s idea of formal was to wear his favourite Star Wars t-shirt.
We were informed by Tim that Mark was still vowing vengeance on whoever stole his Princess Leia cardboard cutout at a gig at The Limelight many years ago.
As it was a very cold night outside, we were all relying on Ash to warm us up. It certainly was warm and sweaty in the venue.
The setlist began with a few biggies such as Goldfinger, Shining Light and A Life Less Ordinary.
For some reason, when I go to a concert, I like to stand on the left hand side of the floor. No idea why, I just do.
From where I was stood, I could see who was loitering at the side of the stage. I spotted an Undertone.
However, it would be a Snower (perhaps appropriate for this time of year) or a Patroler joining them next on stage, with Nathan Connolly joining the action, just as he did in 2015.
More biggies followed in the shape of Uncle Pat and Oh Yeah before Tim started asking where the Bass Player was.
I had originally thought he had nipped off to the toilet for a minute, but it turned out he has jumped into the crowd. I only knew that the next day because a friend on Instagram was posting selfies with him.
By now, Mark was back on stage. There was now a guest star entering the arena, Santa Claus himself, coming on during Kung Fu, dancing and doing kung fu.
Kung Fu Santa, now that is a film that has to be made.
Not sure what the plot is, but Santa and Kung Fu is a sure fire winner.
Whilst the weather had been cold all week, the weather didn’t deliver any snow, so Ash brought snow to the crowd, a confetti gun firing off white confetti into the crowd. I was covered in it, some of it was falling all over my house when I got home.
The band let us in on a little secret that i’ll share with you – They’re working on new music for release in 2023.
They then played Darkest Hour Of The Night, a recent song but a favourite for me.
That was then followed by Girl From Mars.
It would be a Boy From Stroke City and a Boy From Coleraine who would be entertaining the crowd in one of the more bizarre musical collaborations ever.
Damian O’Neill, the Undertone that I spotted loitering at the side of the stage came on. He’s appeared on stage with them a few times, he should probably ask for full membership.
On guest vocals, James Nesbitt. Yes, that James Nesbitt, taking off his coat to reveal a retro Northern Ireland shirt with “Ash 30” printed on the back.
I did warn you that The Ash Christmas Bash is chaotic.
As the band finished their set, the chaos didn’t end there, with Jump In The Line (AKA, Shake Shake Shake Senora) by Harry Belafonte playing on the speaker, giving Rick the opportunity to escape from behind his drumkit to showcase his dancing skills.
The rest of the band were making their way to the Dressing Room, came back to join him and showcase their dancing skills.
A rather enjoyable 30th anniversary concert.
Might as well mark Friday 20th December 2052 in the diary.
Ash live at The Limelight 2021
Ash live at The Limelight 2018
Ash live at Titanic Slipways 2018
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