08.22.13 @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne, AUS
Returning to Australia for the first time in years, Ireland alterna-rockers Ash turned the clock back at Melbourne’s Corner Hotel to play their acclaimed album, 1977, in its entirety. Not only were the band in exceptionally fine form, but the crowd, who looked like they were at the last Ash show (quite possibly on the original 1977 tour in 1996), were the most pleasant, down to earth and collected group of people I’ve seen at a show in years.
It was refreshing to say the least.
Racing through 1977, Ash proved that while they’ve been at it since the band members were 19, they were still as energetic and compact as they’ve ever been. Stand outs through the initial set were of course the Ash staples; “Girl From Mars” (still fantastic), “Angel Interceptor” and “Kung Fu”. Tim Wheeler was as unpretentious a rock star to have graced a stage in recent years as his genuine gratitude and enjoyment was evident through the set. With minimal banter between songs, there was little selling of merchandise or aggravating self importance, instead the band knew why they, and we, were there- to enjoy a great album from back to front.
As the band closed the album set, they wrapped up the pre-encore show with the terrific “Jack Names The Planets” and “A Life Less Ordinary”, before heading off for a quick break. The band returned to the appreciative crowd to close the night on Ash favourites from Free All Angels including “Walking Barefoot”, “Shining Light” and the terrific closer of the evening, “Burn Baby Burn”.
A tight and terrific hour and a half, Ash are a reminder of an era of music far removed from today’s YouTube generation. While it’s been years since 1977 and years since Ash’s brand of music graced the airwaves on a contemporary basis, the band are still as relevant and impactful today. Best of all? The crowd was almost all dickhead/hipster free.
Hatchie – Keepsake
Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars
Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.
There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.
However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.
The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.