It was exciting to try out a new venue, never having been to the Forum before. It’s relatively small, and having arrived in good time we made use of the cloakroom and bar before depositing ourselves just in front of the sound desk. It wasn’t too long before the support act arrived, Death By Unga Bunga. They’re Norwegian, and as strange as Scandinavian rock tends to be. The frontman seems quite angry, and is possibly related to a troll, so it was a bit concerning when early in the set he went for a wander around the crowd, complete with stagehand trying to keep the mic lead from getting tangled. Still, it’s hard to argue with a band that, having arrived with three guitars, decide that what’s really needed is another guitar, the angry man taking one up. What they lacked in some talent they certainly make up for in enthusiasm.
Ash on the other hand are a slick rock machine, but still maintain that raw edge. Arriving to launch into new record True Story they sounded as great as ever, the new material seguing into the old of Kung Fu seamlessly. Indeed, the songs from the new album, Islands, fitted in all night, Annabel in particular standing out. Another highlight of the new stuff came with Damien O’Neill of The Undertones fame appearing on stage for Buzzkill (on the recording of which he supplies vocals along with bandmate Mickey Bradley). There had to be another song with him of course—I’ve seen Ash perform Teenage Kicks not once but twice but never with an actual Undertones member before. There was only one track could follow that, an uproarious rendition of Girl From Mars
Closing out with Burn Baby Burn they were soon back for a surreal encore, Death By Unga Bunga joining them on stage for a chaotic, crowd surfing and hard rocking cover of Abba’s Does Your Mother Know (of all things). That might have brought things to a close, but there was to be a second encore of Walking Barefoot and Lose Control—I think by then we had. We left to the strains of The Time Of My Life over the public address, with enactments of Dirty Dancing from the band on stage. Ash, as ever great live!