Belfast Telegraph

Review: Ash & Kasabian at Belsonic, Belfast

Custom House Square, Belfast

Boasting over 30 acts in eight nights — including four already sold-out shows — Belfast's Belsonic festival has come on in leaps and bounds since its 2008 debut as a three-day event.

Last night's opening concert got the 2010 line-up off to a storming start, with Leicester aggro-merchants Kasabian and Downpatrick stalwarts Ash rocking several thousand fans at Custom House Square.

The rain never broke through the clouds, though there was a nip in the air as Ash launched into A Life Less Ordinary.

The trio were augmented by second guitarist Russell Lissack, from Bloc Party, who helped to beef up an onstage sound that had been lacking since Charlotte Hatherley's departure in 2006.

Ash are a quintessential singles band, and their setlist would have had pop expert Paul Gambaccini totting up the chart stats.

Frontman Tim Wheeler and company also played a couple of tracks from the ongoing A-Z Series, but it was obvious from the muted reception that it was the hits people wanted to hear. Wheeler's between-song banter was as awkward as ever, though he got a cheer when he name-checked the defunct Penny Farthing pub, where Ash started out playing to “15 people”.

Kasabian, meanwhile, were in Belfast ahead of a top-billed appearance at V Festival, and hot off headlining slots at Oxegen and T in the Park.

Influenced in equal measure by Madchester, Britpop and electronica, the edginess implied by the name — Linda Kasabian was Charles Manson's getaway driver — was confirmed by an attitude-heavy performance.

The six-piece delivered a set based mainly around their current album, the number-one West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, with tracks from 2006's Empire and 2004's self-titled debut for good measure.

The audience responded with cheers, applause and the odd hurled toilet roll.

As night fell, and the dancing spread further to the back of the rowdy crowd, it became clear that Paolo Nutini, Biffy Clyro and the rest of Belsonic's big hitters have their work cut out.

ANDREW JOHNSTON

Belfast Telegraph

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