22 min read

Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM

ASH graced the stage in a hot n sweaty Rock City last evening. It’s a band from my home town of Downpatrick in Northern Ireland so I was keen to see the boys in action. Prior to them hitting the hallowed stage we had an undercard consisting of

JEALOUS NOSTRIL: a new rising force in the alternative rock scene, they’re making waves with their unique sound and dynamic line up. The band, featuring the talents of Johnny Borrel, Jack Flanagan, and Ellis D, and has quickly become known for their captivating performances and introspective song-writing. Johnny Borrel, the frontman, lends his distinctive vocals and charismatic stage presence to the band. Previously known for his role in the acclaimed indie rock band Razorlight, Borrel brings a wealth of experience and a magnetic energy to JEALOUS NOSTRIL.

JEALOUS NOSTRIL is carving out their own space in the music landscape, drawing inspiration from their diverse backgrounds and influences. With tracks like “Fading Echoes” and “Vivid Dreams,” the band showcases a sound that is both introspective and anthemic, promising a promising future for this emerging powerhouse in the world of alternative rock.

Whilst we waited in the smoky haze of anticipation, the atmosphere crackled with energy as fans waited for the much-hyped Jealous Nostril gig. The late doors added a palpable tension to the air, the delay causing both excitement and impatience to collide. The buzz of chatter among the crowd hinted at their eagerness, wondering what the delay might mean for the night, will any songs be dropped from the sets.

As the clock ticked away, the venue’s lights flickered before plunging into darkness. Suddenly, a burst of bright lights illuminated the stage, revealing the enigmatic figures of Jealous Nostril as they burst on stage. The 15-minute tardiness seemed to evaporate as the crowd erupted into cheers, the delay forgiven in the face of the impending musical spectacle.

The opening chords of “Lovebomb” reverberated through the venue, the music pulsating with raw energy. Smoke machines worked overtime, casting an ethereal veil around the band as they delved into a setlist that promised an unforgettable night. ‘Paper Scissors Needle’ followed, the crowd swaying in unison to the infectious rhythm.

“Kink in the King” showcased the band’s versatility, seamlessly transitioning between genres while keeping the audience on their toes. The late start was all but forgotten as Jealous Nostril effortlessly carried the crowd through a sonic journey, their music a kaleidoscope of emotions.

“Stop & Stop” hit with a punch, the driving beats and Borrell’s powerful vocals commanding the audience’s attention. The combination of smoke and bright lights intensified the sensory experience, creating a visual symphony that mirrored the eclectic nature of the band’s sound.

“California Is Their Kryptonite” brought a change of pace, the melodic strains evoking a sense of nostalgia. The audience swayed and sang along, lost in the captivating world Jealous Nostril had created within the walls of the venue.

The pulsating beats of “Everyday NDA” resonated with the crowd, the infectious energy spreading like wildfire. Each member of the band seemed to be in perfect sync, their chemistry on stage translating into a seamless musical performance.

As the night reached its crescendo, the final chords of “Cry Cry” echoed through the venue. The crowd, now a sea of swaying bodies. As the last strains faded away, the crowd erupted into a deafening applause. Jealous Nostril had not only delivered a stellar performance but had also transformed the late start into an unforgettable night of music and camaraderie.

The jealous whispers that may have circulated before the gig were now replaced with admiration for a band that had, against all odds, turned a potential hiccup into the beginnings of a night to remember.

Up next are THE SUBWAYS: an electrifying rock trio, THE SUBWAYS. Hailing from Welwyn Garden City, this English band burst onto the scene in the mid-2000s with their energetic and raw sound. Comprising Billy Lunn (guitar/vocals), Charlotte Cooper (bass/vocals), and Camille Philips (drums), they gained widespread attention with anthems like “Rock & Roll Queen” and “Oh Yeah.” Their debut album, “Young for Eternity,” became an instant classic, and subsequent releases like “All or Nothing” and “The Subways” have solidified their place in the contemporary rock scene

Previously, The Subways have left Rock City in tatters after a night of frenzied high-energy rock, they had turned the night into a pulsating celebration of their anthemic tunes. Tonight, looks to be no different as from the moment Billy, Charlotte and Camille hit the stage, it was clear this was going to be a set to remember.

As soon as the first chords of “Oh Yeah” hit you squarely in the face, the crowd erupted into a collective bounce, setting the tone for the entire night. The trio’s charismatic bass player Charlotte Cooper, set off, racing around the stage in a euphoric blur, whilst Billy was engulfed in light and smoke as he delivered the lyric through a Cheshire cat grin.

The infectious energy of “Young for Eternity” and the gritty riffs of “Black Wax” kept the momentum going, and it wasn’t long before Billy pointed out that fans were enjoying themselves, doing their thing in what can only be described as a ‘posh’ pit.

“We Don’t Need Money to Have a Good Time” turned into an anthem for the night, with the crowd singing along passionately. The band seamlessly transitioned between hits like “Taking All the Blame” and the sun-soaked vibes of “Kalifornia,” creating a dynamic setlist that showcased their versatility.

“Turnaround” had everyone swaying to its melodic rhythm, setting the stage for the raw emotion of “I Want to Hear What You Have to Say.” The poignant “Influencer Killed the Rock Star” brought a reflective moment to the chaos, showcasing The Subways’ ability to balance intensity with introspection.

“At 1AM” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” kept the energy levels at their peak, with the crowd’s fist pumps synchronized to the pounding beat. “Girls and Boys” and “With You” had everyone singing along, creating an atmosphere of collective joy.

Then came the climax—the explosive “Rock & Roll Queen.” As the song reached its peak, Billy Lunn, the band’s dynamic guitarist, ran and leapt into the crowd, blurring the lines between the stage and the audience. It was a moment of pure rock and roll communion as the crowd carried him out and then back to the barrier.

Throughout the performance, The Subways flawlessly showcased their journey through albums like “Young for Eternity” and “All or Nothing.” The singles, including the ever-popular “Rock & Roll Queen,” served as milestones in the band’s impressive career.

The crowd, diverse in their own ways, danced in a kaleidoscope of styles. From frenetic bouncing to synchronized fist pumps, each person expressed their connection to the music in a unique manner. The sing-alongs were deafening, turning Rock City into a chorus of voices united by The Subways’ infectious sound.

In the end, as the final notes of “Rock & Roll Queen” echoed through the venue, there was a collective sense of satisfaction—a night spent in the company of a band that knows how to deliver an unforgettable rock experience. The Subways had not just played a gig; they had orchestrated a musical journey, leaving Rock City reverberating with the echoes of their sonic success.

Finally, it’s time for ASH: headlining the night, this band emerged from Northern Ireland in the early ’90s. Formed by Tim Wheeler (vocals/guitar), Mark Hamilton (bass), and Rick McMurray (drums), ASH quickly gained recognition for their infectious blend of punk energy and melodic hooks. Their breakthrough came with the hit single “Girl from Mars,” and they’ve been captivating audiences ever since.

With a career spanning over two decades, ASH’s back catalogue boasts albums like “1977,” “Free All Angels,” “Twilight of the Innocents,” and latest album “Race the Night,” showcasing their ability to seamlessly navigate through various musical styles while maintaining a distinct ASH sound.

The night kicked off with the explosive anthem “Like A God” from their new 2023 album, “Race the Night.” Tim Wheeler’s blistering guitar riffs set the tone for a night of unbridled rock, as this one ripped the skin off your face, a great opening number. Following this sonic onslaught was the pulsating “Race the Night”, again, from their latest album, showcasing their ability to seamlessly blend their classic sound with a contemporary edge.

“Goldfinger,” a throwback to their ’90s heyday and the album “1977”(released in 1996), had the crowd singing along to every word. Mark Hamilton’s bassline provided the backbone, while Rick McMurray’s drums drove the rhythm with unrelenting force.

The band effortlessly transitioned into the ethereal “A Life Less Ordinary,” transporting the audience to a dreamlike state with its haunting melodies, a song written for the film of the same name starring Cameron Diaz and Ewan McGregor, in fact it was he who got the band onboard.

The moody “Orpheus” (2004)and the anthemic “Oslo”(2023) demonstrated the band’s versatility, proving that their musical prowess has only deepened over the years. The raw emotion in Tim Wheeler’s vocals during “Reward in Mind”(2023) left an indelible mark, evoking a connection with the audience that transcended the sweaty confines of the venue.

“Confessions in the Pool”(2018), followed on before Tim Wheeler announced that they get a bit “Punkier” from now on with “Braindead”(2023) which, again, showcased ASH’s ability to craft infectious hooks while maintaining their trademark edge. The relentless energy of “Kung Fu”(1996) had the crowd in a frenzy, moshing and dancing with abandon.

As the familiar chords of “Girl from Mars”(1996) reverberated through the venue, the crowd erupted in cheers. This hit from their breakthrough album, “1977,” remains a timeless anthem that catapulted ASH to international acclaim.

The band delivered it with the same fervour and youthful exuberance that characterized its inception.

“Crashed Out Wasted”(2023) brought a dose of nostalgia for long-time fans, with its raw, punk-inspired energy harking back to ASH’s early days. This brought about the band walking off the stage albeit for only a few minutes, the calls and cheers brought them back smiling for the first of three extra songs.

The collaboration with The Subways on “Oh Yeah”(1996) came about as both bands have a song of the same title. With six musicians now on stage, they injected a fresh dynamic into the set, combining the talents of two formidable bands, yes, we even had two drummers. Billy, Charlotte and Camille left the stage after this crashing explosion of sound.

“Angel Interceptor”(1996) continued the night as it served as a sonic rollercoaster, with its dynamic shifts and explosive choruses. The venue was engulfed in a cacophony of sound, a fitting testament to ASH’s ability to command the stage.

As the night reached its crescendo, the band unleashed their final onslaught with “Burn Baby Burn.”(2001) This anthem from the early 2000s encapsulated the essence of ASH—a perfect fusion of infectious melodies and unbridled energy. The crowd, now drenched in sweat and bouncing with adrenaline, savoured every moment of the sonic onslaught.

Throughout the gig, ASH seamlessly weaved through their extensive discography, blending hits from various albums and singles to create a setlist that appealed to both long-time fans and newcomers. The gritty, sweaty atmosphere of the venue only intensified the experience, creating a visceral connection between the band and the audience.

In the end, ASH’s performance was a testament to their enduring influence in the alternative rock scene. With their unwavering energy, musical prowess, and a setlist that spanned decades, ASH left an indelible mark on the night, proving that they are a force to be reckoned with, watching the crowd’s reaction to every note played tonight I think they will be singing and dancing with them well into the future.

Tonight was only the 2nd date on the tour, if you get a chance to go see the bands then do so, it’s better than being sat watching the Goon show on the TV.

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