The Ashbies @ West Rocks, Shepherd’s Bush review

4 stars (out of 5)

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The AshbiesAfter an unpromising start trying to find the venue and discovering that it looked like the kind of place where your Nan would celebrate her 70th birthday, things got very much better. The door and reception staff were very friendly and the atmosphere was very relaxed; not a poseur in sight and lots of people really interested in the music.

The Ashbies were first up and after the inevitable sound problems at the start of the set, they got the night off to a great start. They look very young (and probably are), but they play as if they’ve been doing this for years. It’s difficult being the first band on, but they had the audience with them by the second song of the set.

The maturity of the songs and the band’s playing (and singing) make them seem much older than they are and the only thing which gives away their age is the sheer exuberance of the live performance – no shoe-gazing or aloof attitude to the audience here.

The two singer/guitarists (Will and Charlie) have very different vocal styles (smooth and rough if you like) and split the vocals about equally, which works very well. What makes them really different is that they harmonise perfectly (and frequently), which works brilliantly as a contrast to the rock guitar sound. With Brendan (bass) and Johnny (drums) providing a rock solid rhythm section, the 2 guitarists play incredibly well off each other, even venturing into jazz-tinged solos occasionally.

All of the technical ability and songwriting is topped off by a total enthusiasm for playing live, which is picked up by the audience who respond in kind. The only, very minor, criticism I had was that they worked so hard during the set that Will’s voice was a bit shredded by the final song (although I’ve seen that happen with arena bands). Go and see them if you get the chance – I certainly will.