I GOTTA breakout!
Ash Grunwald @ The Entrance Waterfront, NSW Australia 26/01/2018 written by Brendan Lewis.
Oi folks, get a load of this one! We have a ripper of a gig here at The Entrance waterfront on the Cenny (Central Coast if you don’t speak Australian). It’s a bloody-beauty of a day, and blues/roots rock Aussie guru Ash Grunwald is doing a special open air gig this evenin’ for Australia Day, a day to celebrate a nation where all nouns must be shortened then end in the letter “a” “y” or more commonly “o”, where pronouncing any word in it’s full originality is wrong, where the people are proud of their deadly wildlife, and most of all, the only nation where callin’ your mate a “sick c***” is actually a compliment! So grab all ya mates, Tazza, Bazza and Johno, and kick back with a stubby in ya stubbies and get your party hat on!
Right-o, the show’s kicked off with a radio presenter from Star 104.5 who’s hosting this gig, gettin’ the crowd all fired up for the headlining act, and introduces us all to Ash. Normally talking to the crowd first before the music even starts tends to let the hype and excitement down, but in this case being a special family friendly event, that people in the area may or may not necessarily be in the area for, it catches everyone’s attention nicely like reelin’ in a whopper of a barra (Barramundi of course) and sets the tone like a champ!
Ash now welcomes and thanks us and acknowledges the traditional native owners of the land around us, before rippin’ into the music.The first song kicks the show off with a bang, with powerful and outback rockin’ guitar riffs and a swaggering beat to get everyone shakin’ that thang. When Ash’s raw expressive shakin’ vocals that don’t muck around, bring the thumpin’ track to a dancin’ fever pitch in the songs’ bridge, the vocals step aside for Ash’s remarkably nifty guitar work that also emulates a bass guitar’s sounds, and his drummer firin’ away rapidly, in beautiful collaborative sync with Ash runnin’ doughnuts of blues-rock smoke around the audience…. On second thoughts, that smoke around us may not be blues rock.
Ash now thanks us, and encourages us all to sing along to the next song and get involved. He now teaches us how to sing the main hook of the next song titled ‘Hammer’, which no-one sings along at first which prompts Ash to say “wow, absolutely no-one sung along, I think that’s a record!” and tries again this time with success. Attempting to instigate a sing along in a casual festival-like setting as this, is risky, as a lot of people are simply passing and not intending to get right into the groove, but with Ash persisting, it draws more attention from the audience and establishes a connection with them nicely!
‘Hammer’ brings a differing rhythm to the previous song to now a more swayin’ blues funk, and with the crowd singin’ along to the anthems chorus, it raises the vibe around me brilliantly for the rest of the short n’ sweet set.
As the sun goes down and the killer koalas rest their weary heads, the lights on the stage take to their full might, with well controlled for the tempo, circular coloured lights spinnin’ around the stage like the flies that piss us off and make us do the great Australian wave. Ash swings from one blues roots ripper to the next mixin’ up the tempo and vibe here and there from groovy blues, to up-beat head banga’ rock, to western swagger, to keep us all hooked like that whoppin’ barra. Although the sound is crisp, sharp and performed perfectly as it should be performed, with a set of guitar/bass, drums and vocals as roarin’ and fully-sick as they are, may get repetitive to those not fully in focus to the music, and could do with another element to keep the casual lingering crowd locked in.
As the energy is crept up to it’s full, some flamin’ galahs yell drunkenly, makin’ the vibe a little less family friendly, as Ash appears from what I can see, to bust a subtle groove on stage while he rips out the guitar riffs and solo’s. Ash now really wins the crowd over by giving us a perfectly renditioned and fitting to Ash’s sound, cover of Bill Withers’ classic ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ which needs no request for a sing along.
Nearing the sets’ end, Ash belts out his dance anthem party track ‘Breakout’, which does indeed make the crowd break out a dance move or two as they walk past or draw closer to the front finally not leaving me standing here at the front all by my lonesome. To make the hype even greater for this song, it’s flowed seamlessly from the previous, connected by another you-beaut guitar solo, and once everyone realises the song’s been switched, pricks up everyones attention.
Apparently Ash gets the signal for one more song before the fireworks take to the night sky, so he shares a brand new song with us that at the moment is just called ‘Boogie’, but says he’ll probably change it later, then thanks us for the last time. ‘Boogie’ is well named for it’s vibe, but after the power-house thumper of the previous two conjoined songs, it lowers the energy a little for a “grand finale” as such.
Ash you bloody beauty! Good job mate, I reckon this was an ace of spades for a live show on this iconic holiday, and the such high calibre of the set is not often found at a free gig! I will indeed be going out of my way and may even invest a penny or two in one of your shows in the future!