Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, one band led the charge in the Northern Irish Rock scene.
Brandishing an uncompromising collection of some of the most powerful and hook laden songs ever penned, coupled with a live delivery saturated with passion and intensity, ask any rock fan of a certain age, from any town or city in the province, who the most essential local live act they ever witnessed was and the resounding answer would be the same – Ashanti.
Despite constant sell out shows and an extensive fanatical fan base, the band were seemingly on the cusp of major success, but fate being a fickle thing, the band never got the chance to enjoy the dizzy heights of stardom they worked so hard for and so richly deserved.
Often referred to as the Best Kept Secret in Irish Rock, the legend that is Ashanti have reformed and will be playing Belfastâ€™s Spring & Airbrake on Saturday 10 April 2010. For anyone who witnessed the Crucial Line-up – Stevie Boyd, Glenn Kingsmore and Gary Murdoch – at the height of their powers in the late â€˜80s / early 90s, it is No Secret â€“ Ashanti were and are one of the most essential rock acts ever to hail from these shores.
Kicking With Both Feet; Real World; Childhood Revisited, September Experience â€“ Ashanti songs hard-wired into the psyches of a generation of gig-goers in Belfast and around Ireland; melodic hard rock songs delivered with an almost Punk-like power and a unique lyrical empathy and anger â€“ songs that made you want to pick up a guitar and form a band.
In their time, Ashanti released 3 singles â€“ but the bandâ€™s live shows were the real story. Throughout the province and wider afield, the boys built a reputation as a fearsomely powerful live attraction â€“ their gigs in Belfastâ€™s Rosetta Bar (arguably where the initial Ashanti spark became a bonfire) are the stuff of NI rock legend. The Baggot Inn, Dublin; The Mean Fiddler London; some would say the boyâ€™s greatest live moment was playing Brixton Academy on St Patrickâ€™s Night all those years agoâ€¦
Rock Nostalgia is big business these days, but catch Ashanti this time round and youâ€™ll see this is no cosy stroll down memory lane â€“ these are 3 musicians who still care about the transforming power of music: Glenn Kingsmore, still searching for the truth with Take The Fifth; Six-string wizard Stevie Boyd, the guitar power behind Flash Harry and Gary Murdoch, still banging four to the floor with Doghouseâ€¦
Three musicians still being true to what they do â€“ and, on Saturday 10 April at the Spring & Airbrake they will come together once more as Ashanti.
The Spring & Airbrake: Saturday 10 April
Doors 9pm, Tkts: Â£11.25