Ash headlining the NME/Radio 1 stage on a Saturday night would seem like a banker for a capacity crowd. One of the most successful singles bands of the last ten years there can't be anyone here tonight that isn't familiar with at least a handful of their songs. Whilst packing out the middle of the tent and the side nearest the main stage, there is a surprising amount of room over on the left, surely punters haven't opted for main stage headliners Razorlight instead? Whatever the reason it's abundantly clear that most of the crowd here have come to sing and sing they duly do.
It's a strong opening salvo featuring 'Lose Control' and 'Burn Baby Burn', the latter causing pretty much the whole crowd to go nuts. Ash are members of a select group of bands that have mastered the art of a great chorus and naturally this gives the crowd all the excuse they need to let rip. Every song is received with wild abandon although the mood does take a slight dip when 'A Life Less Ordinary' gives way to new single 'End of the World', which sounds somewhat lame by the standard of what's gone before.
They certainly don't seem to miss Charlotte Hatherly at all, if anything Tim Wheeler seems to be thoroughly enjoying the extra freedom he has on the guitar. He doesn't have the strongest or best singing voice but the quality of the material carries them through with ease. The sound isn't the best tonight however and this does detract from the overall impression a little. The mass singing continues though with two classics back to back, 'Oh Yeah' is followed by the song everyone has come to hear, 'Girl from Mars' prompts the kind of reaction that most bands can only dream of with practically everyone in the tent appearing to know every word. After that though it all starts to peter out, for a start there is a surprising but steady exodus of the crowd and whilst 'Twilight of the Innocents' is a big tune to finish with it lacks the energy and feelgood factor of 'Girl from Mars'. They return to the stage for a one song encore, which to my delight is early single 'Jack Names the Planets' but it seems I'm in the minority as many of the crowd don't seem to know it!
Ash have such strength in depth that they are always going to be able to deliver a good headline set, tonight though they don't quite hit the heights they have in the past. Enjoyable enough but a case of good not great.