Las Vegas Weekly 9th Sept, 2002

Northern Ireland's Ash, though essentially a punk-propelled power-pop band, is more stylistically audacious than headliners Coldplay, with its sheer straight-faced variety bringing an almost vaudeville air to proceedings. Third album "Free All Angels" slaloms between gilded, soundtrack gloss ("Candy"), stark, Elastica - evoking fuzz ("Cherry Bomb") and sunny '60s strumming ("Shining Light"). Like the Manic Street Preachers, Ash is simultaneously garage and grandiose, street-level and cinematic, its strings-embroidered sense of scale transcending rock's traditional tunnel vision.

The addition of second guitarist Charlotte Hatherley - the Chrissie Hynde of her generation - in '98 has added subtle sonic strata and appropriate in-concert glamour to Ash's four-minute epics. Still in their early 20s, the members of Ash may have only scratched the surface of main-man Tim Wheeler's gorgeous vision - a potentially terrifying prospect. Long-time chart fixtures back in Europe, it's alarming that this relentless song-machine is opening for anyone - and if their recent repeated assaults on our shores pay the popularity dividends they deserve, then this may be the last time Ash have to warm up someone else's crowd.

- Paul Rogers


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