Attitudes, and their importance in rock: discuss...

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Muse London Astoria


Muse London Astoria

Attitudes, and their importance in rock: discuss…

Tonight, [a]Angelica[/a] display the same garrulous wit they regularly grace upon grotty toilet venues, seemingly unaware that this is the ASTORIA! and they are playing THE LAST OF NME’s BRATS GIGS!! We like this. They slay a boisterously enthusiastic early crowd with the likes of the hard-riffin’ ‘Catch 22’, and the off-kilter gorgeousness of ‘Bring Me Her Head’ (imagine The Ronnettes, if you immersed your ears in cough medicine), strutting off a stage strewn with cigarettes, thrown to them by their newly-won fans. That, indeed, is how to do ‘support slot’.

By contrast, Muse play as if they were headlining, laying down a blistering rock show which leaves blood splattered across the walls. Shattering previous comparisons to Jeff Buckley and Radiohead, Muse‘s hour or so of black riffage, damning falsetto and white noise carves out an identity all their own. Frontman Chris Wolstenholme, resembling a rock’n’ roll Tom Cruise, careers across the stage, masterfully controlling blasts of feedback and thowing the kind of rock shapes outlawed by Punk Rock. Imbuing their spidery noise with a tangible post-Nirvana intensity and a unique starpower, Muse‘s performance tonight paints them as very real contenders. “This is our first gig in six months. We missed you,” chirps Tim Wheeler, as fans quietly voice the very real fear that Muse may very well have blown headliners Ash off the stage. “Did you miss us?” Ill-judged admission of weakness on the part of the boy Wheeler, or perfect introduction to a stupendously loud, brutish ‘Projects’? You tell us, when your ears eventually stop ringing that is.

This is Ash, in safe, Hits-plus-a-newie mode. The ill-starred turntablist who popped up on the last tour is thankfully absent. And, seemingly in sync with Tim‘s newly buff physique, the band are tighter than they’ve ever been, pounding out the favourites with a mean-ness, a lean-ness, that is breath-taking. ‘Fortune Teller’ makes the speedball-glam of NYC its own, while ‘Goldfinger’ annihilates with its obscure but-no-less-poignant lyricism, and new song ‘Barefoot’ indicates no new direction whatsoever, being positively Ash-esque from pop-head to punk-toes.

So what, indeed, is Ash‘s r’n’r ‘attitude’ tonight? ‘We are Ash, we rock, fuck you’, which, thankfully, is exactly the kind of come-out-fighting chutzpah Ash needed to display, to reclaim their rightful place in the Brit-rock pantheon. With the relatively-disappointing ‘Nu-Clear Sounds’ behind them, time now for the Second Act in Ash‘s career. It began here.