THE BRAVERY + ASH + Alaska @ Studio Juste Pour Rire

By Louis - Hooked On Sonics - 04/14/2005

Stop what you are doing. On second thought, read this review first, then stop whatever it is you have planned on doing and go out and buy all of Ash’s back catalogue. Start with 1995’s Trailer then 1996’s 1977, skip 1998’s Nu-Clear Sounds, and go straight to 2002’s Free All Angels and new album Meltdown. If you happen to find the singles and B-side collection Intergalactic Sonic 7s, then give me a call because it’s rare in North America. Then turn up the volume and just enjoy the magic that is Ireland’s million-copies-selling rock band Ash. That is what I have been doing the past couple of days while counting down the hours to the Montreal stop of the Ash and The Bravery co-headlining North American tour.

Ash were in fine form, performing classics like “Kung Fu”, “Walking Barefoot” and “A Life Less Ordinary”, along with “Clones” “Orpheus”, “Renegade Cavalcade” and “Detonator” (off their very good new album). Tim Wheeler and company really looked like they were enjoying themselves tonight and it showed in the way they enthusiastically bounced around on stage. Tim was all smiles and at times engaged the crowd with small talk and dedicating “Shining Light” to a fan in the crowd who dressed like Michael Jackson with the one sparkling glove. Later, Tim spotted a fan that wanted to present guitarist Charlotte Hatherley with a bouquet of flowers, and proceeded to tell her that she has an admirer. She graciously accepted the flowers and took a bow in recognition of her fan, as the crowd cheered loudly. Ash was able to mix their newer, harder, rockier songs with their pop-punk past and give us a show that was fun and energetic.

As for The Bravery, I was apprehensive about seeing this hyped-up New York band, as they seemed to come out of nowhere to be the Buzz Band of 2005. I read about their drunken sex parties they had while playing their month-long residency at a London club, I read the cover story on them in the NME, I saw their #5 chart position in the UK Charts and their Top 20 placing on last week’s Billboard Charts, so I went in with some reservations on whether the band was for real or just smoke and mirrors created by the media. I have not listened to the debut self-titled album yet, so this would be my first real introduction to the band. I have to say that I thought they were pretty good live: the songs were tight and they do the 80’s synth wave/new wave thing pretty well. They were very happy to be playing in Montreal and lead singer Sam Endicott mentioned how he thinks Montreal has one of the best music scenes around and thanked the crowd on numerous occasions and later spoke a few sentences in French. As a live band, The Bravery definitely delivered a good show. However, I found that towards the end, the songs did start to sound the same. As with all new hyped bands, only time will tell if they are for real.

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