Ash/ Hundred Reasons/ Soundtrack Of Our Lives/ Jet Plane Landing : London Astoria

It's an evening of unreconstructed rock at the latest NME Carling Show...

After the plethora of acoustic guitars which kicked off the NME Carling Shows the night before, it’s very much time to rock. And JET PLANE LANDING make a decent stab of it, their [a]Shellac[/a] fixation screeching through the building to remind everyone that tonight we’re in for a different kind of entertainment entirely.

[a]Soundtrack Of Our Lives[/a] up the ante with an astonishing performance, during which singer Ebbot Lundberg (who looks like a cross between Benny from Abba and Brian Wilson – acid-drenched pie-eating phase) walks into the audience and encourages everyone to sit down and erm, look up at the roof. The burly Swede’s charisma more than makes up for the muddy sound, and tunes like the coruscating ‘Sister Surround’ and the delicate ‘Nevermore’ might yet lead to a mass outbreak of kaftan wearing by way of homage.

There are (ahem) literally hundreds of [a]Hundred Reasons[/a] T-shirts in the crowd, and the heaving mass at the front go apeshit when their new heroes take to the stage. [a]Hundred Reasons[/a] might be associated with the EMO movement, but there’s something else afoot here, an intense, rifftastic barrage which could move mountains. The lyrics are damn near unintelligible, but singer Colin Doran’s howling heroics articulate clearly the angst at the core of this piledriving assault on the ears. It’s been EMOtional.

Most people know the pack drill with [a]Ash[/a]. After a career-saving 2001, tonight feels like a celebration, a shared feeling of joy that one of Britain’s best pop bands got their career back. The fact that 1998’s misguided ‘Nu-Clear Sounds’ is largely ignored in favour of a split between ‘Free All Angels’ stuff and a batch of early singles shows that [a]Ash[/a] know all too well where their strengths lie.

The pace ebbs and flows between the likes of relative softies ‘There’s A Star’ and ‘Goldfinger’ and [a]Pixies[/a]-esque pop nuggets like ‘Burn Baby Burn’ and the still fantastic oldie’Jack Names The Planets’. And even when they do delve into their darkest period, ‘Jesus Says” sleazy, grinding riff is speeded up in case the momentum is broken.

“We’d like to thank the NME for dragging us out of early retirement,” chuckles singer Tim Wheeler. Really, the pleasure was all ours.

Alan Woodhouse