Triumphant acoustic show from Charlotte Hatherley
I have to admit that I was never the biggest fan of Charlotte becoming a member of Ash, as it seemed their decline coincided with her appearance in the band. However I'd been hearing good things about her latest album so went along with a semi-open mind. Gigs at Birmingham's Glee club are always intimate, and sitting on the front row left me feeling especially exposed.
Charlotte arrived onstage after a lengthy wait, backed only by her friend Charlie, and quickly announced this as her debut acoustic show. Leaving the crowd anticipating an interesting spectacle one way or the other the duo launched into 'Roll Over (Let it Go)'. The songs are fast paced despite being acoustic and indeed the setlist features 14 or so songs in very little time at all. 'Again' is introduced as a song "about being a bad girlfriend" and you can't help but speculate that the song deals with the recent break up between Charlotte and director Edgar Wright. 'I Want You to Know', another cut from 'The Deep Blue' follows, with a cover of Wire's 'Outdoor Miner' thrown in to mix things up. Charlotte is a captivating presence throughout despite keeping banter to a bare minimum. It seems stripping her songs to their bones has worked favourably as her vocals and lyrics can be easily appreciated in such a setting, an achievement not only because acoustic doesn't work for everyone, but also because 'The Deep Blue' has a lot more going on in the way of vocal effects.
'Siberia' is one of the highlights in an excellent set and is followed by another cover, this time Simon Dupree and the Big Sound's 'Kites', which Charlotte describes as some of the best lyrics ever. Next is a duo of songs from 'Grey Will Fade' an album that had been neglected in the set until now. The gorgeous melancholy of the upbeat sounding 'Summer' as backed by the wonderfully written 'Bastardo', which calls to memory a sleazy David Walliams as featured in the video.
My favourite cover of the night has to be 'Kids in America' the final song before the encore. Fittingly, on her return to the stage, this time completely alone, Charlotte launches into 'Kim Wilde'. The set closer is another cover, this time The Beatles 'I Need You', by Charlotte's favourite Beatle. An odd choice to close perhaps but by this point the crowd is so enraptured anything would be fitting.
I entered slightly ambivalent and left converted, that's the beautiful unpredictability of live music and once again my favourite venue has supplied a greatly enjoyable and easily memorable gig.