Belfast Telegraph

Tim Wheeler at Oh Yeah Centre, Belfast: Album born out of tragedy could define rocker’s future career

By Michael Conaghan

When the frontman of the band who define for many the exemplar of fizzing effervescent pop delivers a mature, solo album, we all begin to feel our age.

As must Ash’s Tim Wheeler whose new album Lost Domain was inspired by his father’s experience of Alzheimer’s leading to his death three years ago. It’s a stark and brave move, for as he acknowledged recently: “I’ve always reached for the guitar to express emotion.”

But for this new album, which perhaps demands a deeper range of emotional responses, he has stretched the musical palette to become a genuine multi-instrumentalist and one now taking up cudgels on behalf of Alzheimer’s Society.

New keyboard-orientated songs like End of an Era, demanded attention like a Bowie or Roxy song used to; passionate, with a touch of the epic. Do You Ever Think of Me was sublimely arranged. It was to Wheeler’s credit that he chose not to pepper the set with Ash songs early on, allowing the new material to speak for itself. And if the mood was downbeat, the melodies were often sublime, First Time in Spring being especially blessed with a Roddy Frame-style lilt.

When finally towards the end of the evening we got Ash imperishables like Shining Light, it didn’t feel like a bone chucked to the masses. This album, wrought out of tragedy, obviously means a lot to Wheeler and will define the next stage of his career. What that means for the future of Ash remains uncertain. I defy anyone who has been exposed to this music not to want to hear it again.

Four stars

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