Monday, April 30, 2018

Live Review :: No Hot Ashes :: Zanzibar, Liverpool - Apr 27 2018


No Hot Ashes + Azura Kings + Vida

Zanzibar, Liverpool

April 27 2018

Words/Pictures: Jane Davies

You can count on a This Feeling curated gig for a great evening of music from local and not so local bands. Big Bambora’s early doors slot was a bit early for me, but I did get to see Merseyside’s other contribution to the evening in the form of Azura Kings who succeeded in getting an initially reluctant crowd to dance. I had heard ‘Questions’ before on BBC Introducing, but had never seen them play live before. Luckily for the audience, their new single ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ bore no resemblance to the Smiths song and left them in a suitably upbeat mood for Vida.

Vida had come a long way - from Alloa, to be precise - with an impressive festival track record and are sure to go a lot further, based on their performance tonight. A tartan scarf and a pair of Adidas football boots were wrapped around guitarist Nate’s microphone, looking like a tribute to a fallen comrade, but I was assured after the gig that it was merely a tribute to Nate’s love of football, Adidas - and being Scottish. Vida have a real throwback to the 90s feel, but with a contemporary edge and styling along with a keyboard, which seems to be a favoured addition on the indie circuit of late. You could detect influences from the Verve and The Charlatans in a number of their songs. New single ‘A Place Where We Can Gorget’ was very polished and the set was brought to a close by a mass sing along to ‘Fade Away’, something which you know this band won’t do.

So finally on to Stockport’s No Hot Ashes. Maybe words more usually seen on the side of a dustbin, but there was nothing trashy about this performance: they were on fire and certainly not burnt out. Described on their Facebook as a “post pop disco funk” outfit, frontman Isaac put in a highly energised performance with buckets of swagger and baggy dancing. All he needed to complete the retro feel was a pair of retro Joe Bloggs jeans and an Inspiral Carpets t-shirt with the infamous “Cool as **** caption on it.

No Hot Ashes are very young and had drawn a suitably young crowd who were delighted that there were no barriers dividing them from the band. This made for an intimate and inclusive feel to the gig. Isaac’s distinct, raspy vocal complemented their edgy, brash, streetwise tunes. Even the song titles were raw; ‘Skank’, ‘Goose’ and ‘Belly Aches’ sounded like a future Happy Mondays album title. I’m not sure what an ‘Ez peeler’ is, but it made for a grand entrance. The soaring electronica in ‘Skint Kids Disco’ - their latest single - went head to head for me with final number ‘Goose’ as stand out song of the set.

‘Smooth (no bits)’ I deduce doesn't pay homage to fresh orange cartons ("You're dying in the week but you're living for the weekend / Smooth / Every job far gone feels like a God") and had a lot of funky “wah wah” going on, whilst ‘Bad Crowd’ certainly did not refer to the assembled throng in front of the stage. As is often the case with bands with keyboards, it was seen but not heard enough at times, but pleasingly apparent in ‘Eight Till Late’ - along with a funky bassline - in a song that could well be an ode to convenience stores previously frequented by the band, but in fact was inspired by the daily struggle with mental health issues.

Just add the pills and thrills for extra measure on ‘Bellyaches’, a song that was all about big riffs, and over-indulgence, a trip down Madchester memory lane. The set ended with Isaac playing his guitar over his head and then throwing it to the floor with it miraculously escaping seemingly intact. They smashed it, but luckily not the guitar this evening!

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