Live Review: Ash with Reputante and Dot Dash at DC9, Washington DC – 15th November 2012

By on Monday, 19th November 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

As I was telling the man himself, Tim Wheeler of Ash, after their show at Washington’s DC9 on Thursday night, I had been waiting what felt like an eternity to see the Northern Irish band gig for some time. So had many Washingtonians; it had been 7 long years since the trio graced our city, and this time around in 2012, they had chosen to play in really small venues, so when word got out they were playing the 200-capacity club, we pounced on tickets. Even now, a couple days after, it feels incredibly surreal that I has been stood just feet away from a band I had only heard either in recordings of ‘Life on Mars’ being played on 6music or when Wheeler guested many times on Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable. (Note to the BBC and Lammo: Tim Wheeler says I should be on Roundtable pronto. Please, sort that out 🙂

But let’s start this gig review first with the openers. The first was Reputante, whose description on DC9’s Web site read like this: “Reputante is a recording collaboration between James Levy and Tim Wheeler of Ash, and a band with James Levy, Jimmy Giannopoulis, Emiliano Ortiz and Raviv Ullman. Jon Wiley and Pete Moses also participate.” This led me to believe that Tim Wheeler actually played in the band, so I arrived early, thinking he would be onstage for their set. Mmm, no.

Levy, the frontman, was quite taciturn and never said where they were from. (Their Facebook says Brooklyn. I guess this is how he knows Wheeler, who lives in the Lower East Side.) He had this odd stance while he was singing, like he was trying to perform a lunge; I described it to Cheryl as a half Guy Garvey (no rocking). Further, when Levy sang, his slow, dirge-like intonations reminded me of Ian Curtis. This band is more fun when they’re upbeat, even if Levy’s voice still has an edge of sadness. Another thing that irked me about this band was that all their songs were so short and seemed to end just as they’d gotten started; they’d play a grand chord and then…nothing. The song would stop.

Weird, abrupt endings of songs was not a problem for the next band. I was really looking forward to hearing locals Dot Dash again, after seeing them open for the Drums at a sold out Black Cat in April. They didn’t disappoint, striking a nice balance between the shoegaze of Evan Dando’s Lemonheads and the Stone Roses. Perhaps it was because the acoustics were better this night at DC9 than at the Black Cat, but this time I could fully appreciate how great the guitars and drums went together on Dot Dash’s songs. Just watching Bill Crandall rip it on guitar made my head spin. So few bands these days are truly musically talented and write great songs. Check out the video for ‘The Past is Another Country’ below.

Having reviewed both of Ash’s Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 of the ‘A-Z’ single series in 2010, I was more excited than should be allowed for the band’s long-awaited return to the Nation’s Capital. Maybe it is because I have never experienced them live and have only listened to their songs either through headphones o n my mp3 player or on the computer via the BBC iPlayer or Spotify, I really wasn’t expecting how loud the gig was. (I should have probably put on the highest filter on my earplugs before the gig started. Whoops.) Or maybe it was because I was standing right in front of Tim Wheeler, so close that he could see the bandage on my face I was complaining about on Twitter hours before that after the gig, he said he recognised me and asked how my nose was? Whatever the reason, their sound was huge and overwhelming. In a good way.

They had dubbed it their 20th Anniversary Tour, so as should be expected from any greatest hits anything, the massive hits from yesteryear were trotted outand played loudly and with so much passion for an ever appreciative Washington audience. Lammo must like ‘Girl from Mars’ because it comes up quite often in his playlists, but I really wasn’t prepared for the live version. The band barely had a segue from ‘A-Z’ single ‘Arcadia’ right into it; watch both below. The funny moment of the night belonged to drummer Rick McMurray, who complained that he needed to resituate his private parts (you had to be there to fully appreciate the jokes but you can get some of the humour before they play ‘Arcadia’).

Instead of going offstage only to return for an encore, Ash did away with this, by launching directly from ‘Return of White Rabbit’ (completely with absolutely manic bass lines delivered by Mark Hamilton, who wins the gold medal for the night for the most wild guitar playing poses) straight into ‘Joy Kicks Darkness’, both from the ‘A-Z’ collection. Truth be told, I was kind of bummed they didn’t play ‘Space Shot’ (my favourite of all the A-Z singles) or ‘True Love 1980’, but no worries, guys. They can play those when they return to DC – something that Tim Wheeler himself promised now that he and Mark live in New York City. Result!

After the cut: Ash’s set list.

Ash Set List:

Lose Control
Orpheus
Jack Names the Planets
Goldfinger
Clones
Walking Barefoot
Binary
Kung Fu
Shining Light
Oh Yeah
A Life Less Ordinary
Arcadia
Girl from Mars
Return of White Rabbit
Joy Kicks Darknes
Angel Interceptor
Burn Baby Burn

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[…] Ash‘s 20th anniversary tour at DC9 (Thursday 15th November 2012) – what a surreal experience, finally seeing Ash live, in one of the smallest places to see […]

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