March 18, 2005
BY JASON SONGE
Seriously--Ash was too big for the SXSW showcase they played at Eternal Friday night. Four albums and twelve years into the game, the Irish rock quartet had enough single-worthy songs to fill a greatest hits collection. But, since their 2004 album, "Meltdown," was released two weeks before SXSW, a chance to promote the album was had.
At the 2004 Coachella Music Festival, Ash unveiled a harder sound than on their third album, "Free All Angels," which melded orchestral pop with straightforward rock. The band played unreleased songs from "Meltdown" that possessed a stronger punch.
At Eternal Ash played new songs from "Meltdown" like "Orpheus," "Clones," "Renegade Calvacade," and "Evil Eye." Though the songwriting on these songs wasn't as appealing as the material on "Angels," there were still enough hooks to bounce the room. The club was full, and the audience showed more love than at any other show during SXSW. Sure, the crowd was still full of arm-crossed, industry types, but the fans ruled this show. In the front, people pogoed, and a small mosh pit was created for a bit. Ash matched this intensity with a sweaty, energetic performance full of flying V guitars and arena rock confidence. Mark Hamilton's fat, driving bass lines drew almost as much attention as lead guitarist Charlotte Hatherley's ripping solos. The rest of the band was vocalist/guitarist Tim Wheeler and drummer Rick McMurray.
The band played "Shining Light," "Girl From Mars," "Jackie Chan," and the icing on the cake was "Burn Baby Burn," one of the most fiery and melodic post-punk songs this side of geographical references in jokes.