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"This is our favourite toilet!" Ash frontman Tim Wheeler smiles, "We played here in 1994 supporting Shed Seven." Ash, yes, Ash are playing in Tunbridge Wells and quite frankly, I can't believe it! The Forum, a former public toilet, is one of the first venues you play when you start touring, being 250 capacity when it sells out, so the chance to see a band who have sold millions of albums around the world is very, very exciting. I saw the band live for the first time at this year's Hop Farm Festival and it goes without saying that I was impressed seeing them play in Kent, but seeing them play in my hometown was not to be missed!
Tonight was stop 'T' of Ash's A-Z series of gigs, which is taking the band to places that many people didn't know existed, for instance for the last gig of the tour in the village of Zennor in Cornwall, the population is only 250, and getting from venue to venue (i.e. Falkirk to Gloucester) must be a logistical nightmare.
After a short set from promising support band Panama Kings, the venue was full, there was an air of anticipation and the sweat was literally dripping off the walls...this is a real rock 'n' roll venue! The lights dimmed, fans dressed in tutus and waving pom poms screamed, and Ash took to the stage, which was quite possibly their shortest walk from dressing room to stage ever.
Starting off with "Lose Control" from their first full length album 1977 the band instantly got the audience dancing and they blasted their way through a greatest hits set. "Shining Light" was played early in the set and inevitably provoked a mass sing-a-long, this was one of many highlights. From the earliest single "Jack Names The Planets" to the tracks that are making up the A-Z series of single releases which compliment the tour.
Ash plan to release one single every fortnight for a year, with "Arcadia" being the fourth single in this series.
Classic singles "Oh Yeah", "Kung Fu", "Girl From Mars" to set finale "Burn Baby Burn" were all lovingly received from the adoring Tunbridge Wells audience.
So, on a night when half the UK are indoors watching talentless, fame-hungry wannabes on X-Factor, it was a privilege to watch a band who perform because they love music. Ash were making music before I was born, and still have the great enthusiasm and passion for what they do. It didn't matter to them about the size of the venue, they were doing the job that they love.
Tim Wheeler announced that they were doing Tunbridge Wells' first ever residency as they would be performing again the following night playing 1977 in its entirety. Weren't we spoilt!
© Lauren Towner
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