Live review: The Ashtones at ABC, 14/10/11

It seems a modern cliché that policeman are getting younger, apparently. Of course it is perfectly clear that we are all getting older, and we can extend this misinterpretation to bands. They also seem to be getting younger, as it is I who am getting older.

Take The Ashtones for example, four young lads who range in age from 17 to 19. Such youth should instil a confidence and vitality in a band the like of which makes those observers who doubt rocks youthful elixir to change their tune rather rapidly. This is certainly something that The Ashtones are able to do. Their performance on this occasion is excellent and together they produce a sound which is varied, complex and affectingly intense.

Having spoken to the band before their performance I wrongly assumed that they may not have the requisite experience to create interesting and unique sounds. I thought that maybe this would be another retrospective homage to the hegemonic list of British rock music’s overlords. The 60’s to 90’s lineage of well-trodden sound which doesn’t seem to do much other than exist. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong on as the fantastic unity of the band and their obvious love of performing is as infectious as the inspired fast-paced tunes.

From the first bar of heavy bass drums I realise that we are in store for a powerful set. There is great balance between the rhythm section and real substance is imposed on the sound through the melodic balance between both guitars. The intense energy and output of the rhythm guitar works in unison with the complex and intricate lead performance and shows a real understanding of craft and an inherent musicality. Where one of the very big individual performances on each instrument could possibly dominate the sound created the levels seem to work to produce a unified onslaught and a well merged sound with depth and interest.

Performance is a key factor in this particular gig, all members of the band are completely at home on stage and perform their songs as well as anyone I have seen in a long time. A frenetic physicality is used at the right intervals from drummer to guitarists and sets a tone. This infectious energy controls the audience and the performance, both sonic and physical, creates immediate collaboration between the band and those present.

The size of gigs will inevitably increase and I think that this band certainly have the sound to match that expansion. An LP would be on the cards were it not for the fact that surprisingly they have not been signed yet. The Ashtones sound great and offer a strong enough identity already to be worthy of much wider acclaim and exposure.

Words:  Joe Leightley


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