Brand New Friend
The room is buzzing as BRAND NEW FRIEND take to the stage, a quirky looking quartet with front man Taylor Johnson looking like a million dollars in his nice shiny tracksuit top, adorning a pink Stratocaster he slams his way into a feisty and energetic set that gets the room bouncing. Joined by his rather cute sister Lauren Johnson on keyboard sharing the vocals, Brand New Friend romp their way through a highly addictive and foot stomping set that you cant but help warm too.
Lauren takes lead vocals and adds an additional edge to their performance whilst the guys behind them put on a more than solid performance that gains the attention of all in the room. Taylor is a likeable character and interacts with the crowd well as he bounces off friends in the room shouting abuse, but it’s all in good fun and with the festive season upon us their short and high impact set comes to an end.
The darkness of the stage gave way to ASH strolling onto stage with confident nonchalance, backlit by heavy blue lights as they kicked into their first song “True Story”. The crowd roared. Then the white light kicked in with dramatic effect and Tim Wheeler could be seen in his full glory singing his heart out to full effect. The Limelight was packed and now heaving with a joyous movement.
In came “Kung Fu”, much to the delight of the audience and gears started turning up higher. “Cocoon”, “Annabel” and then the absolute crowd pleaser “Oh Yeah” kept the whole thing flowing. ASH’s sound can best be described as a cross between Weezer, Nirvana and Green Day, but on a beautiful summer’s day. The need to smile is irresistible and the need to bop your head or jump is uncontrollable. Onto one of their new songs from their latest album “Island”, “Confessions in the Pool” before landing “A Life Less Ordinary”.
Landing next was “Goldfinger” before a beautiful rendition of “Walking Barefoot”. Tim, Mark and Rick then delivered an absolute classic track with “Shining Light” before giving the crowd more highly charged songs with “All That I Have Left”, “Incoming Waves” and “Orpheus”. Even when they seemed to be melancholy there was always a hint of summer about them that kept you uplifted.
All three of the lads from Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, just looked at ease on stage. Highly professional, tight and on point with their delivery, but at ease none the less. Tim and Mark dominated the stage while Rick slammed out those beats.
Then, for a few people in the audience anyway, came a wonderful little highlight as Tim, Mark and Rick performed a cover of John William’s Cantina Band tune. And its not hard to notice Mark has a Millennium Falcon tattoo on his arm. Much Nerd, Very Star Wars!!
“Jesus Says”, “Numbskull”, and “Buzzkill” inject the high energy once more, like a super dose of Red Bull, as the fans, and anybody who wasn’t a fan at the start is by now, are now euphoric with the vibe. The place is going wild with arms in the air and a tidal-like movement of bodies, everyone is moving to the sound of ASH. Just to stoke the crowd up even more Mark jumped off stage, over the barrier and right into the crowd. There was a sudden surge forward to get selfies with him as he continued playing. And he milked it like a pro.
Then came the ASH classics “Girl From Mars” and “Burn Baby Burn” to finish off the set. As they left the stage there were roars for more, an enthusiastic rendition of “Olay, Olay, Olay” and even a short go at “Jingle Bells”. And in due form out came the trio and to the delight of everyone there sang
“Did Your Love Burn Out?”, “Jesus the Reindeer” and an incredible cover of “I wish it could be Christmas Every Day” with Brand New Friends, Family and crew all bedecked in Christmas hats all on stage giving a helping hand. They were almost drowned out with the crowd giving it their all too. To a mighty roar, ASH deservedly took a bow before everyone took part in a singalong to “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”.
What a night’s entertainment. Great music and great entertainment. ASH were masters of the stage with a no nonsense approach, minimal chat and maximum music meant they could fit in a total of 22 songs. They are a three piece and sounded like a five piece. This is a kind of indie rock show that just gives you that little contented smile.
It was their last gig of 2018 and what a gig it was too. If get a chance to see ASH while they are on tour next year, take a chance and go see them.
Review of Brand New Friend by Mark McGrogan, Rock N Load
Revioew of Ash by Ivor Whitten, Happy Metal Geek
Photography by Darren McVeigh, Metal Planet Music