Ashbourne Festival kicked off last night with Not The Rolling Stones at the Empire Ballroom. There was also a free gig at the Bridge which meant it was a pretty good music night for Ashbourne. There was a good crowd at the Empire on a warm evening and the organisers made a smart move by arranging chairs and tables to the sides rather than in rows so it left plenty of room for the dancers without obstructing the view.
Not The Rolling Stones have a lead singer who does look like Mick and the lineup featured a bass player looking a little like Captain Sensible, and a Keef doing his best to emulate the ravages. They also decided to go the Mick Taylor route for second guitarist rather than Brian Jones or Ronnie Wood. He looked slightly incongruous somehow – as if he probably features in a Darkness or Led Zeppelin tribute band on his nights off. There was also a keyboard player and female backing vocalist. First impressions were of a rather packed stage!
They got under way, unsurprisingly, with Start Me Up and then made their way through the fantastic back catalogue. I thought in the first half they were stronger on the older tracks – Not Fade Away, It’s All Over Now and The Last Time were some of the first to get people on their feet in numbers. As did the double header of Miss You and You Can’t Always Get What You Want done with a slightly funkier baseline than I recall. The whole set mixed the old with the slightly less old. Standouts for me were Paint It Black and Street Fighting Man. They had a couple of oddities in the set with a rendition of Live With Me done with the backing singer playing the part of Christina Aguillera and Happy – which allowed Keef to take lead vocals.
By the end of the evening pretty much everyone was on their feet and happy.
We got to The Bridge just in time to see the end of The Snapp playing in the Courtyard. This wasn’t a Festival event but should have been. I heard the band sound testing earlier and the guitarist was fantastic playing blues riffs – he can play. The set was mainly based on The Jam – we heard Going Underground, Town Called Malice and the final encore of That’s Entertainment. They also threw in some Madness and ska. In a packed venue the atmosphere was great with everyone having a good time and dancing. Gangsters (The Specials) and Monkey Man (Toots and the Maytals) were particularly great. A personal favourite – Iggy Pop’s The Passenger – had a middle section featuring Deep Purple’s Black Night and there was even time for a short rendition of Drag Racer (the Snooker theme). All in all The Snapp were really tight and a very personable party band clearly enjoying what they do and doing it really, really well.