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Downpatrick indie rockers Ash presented with award ahead of Belfast gig

Ash's Tim Wheeler receives the Oh Yeah Legend Award before their concert in the Mandela Hall in Belfast. Picture Matt Bohill. 

DOWNPATRICK indie rockers Ash were presented with a special award on Friday night ahead of a special gig at the Mandela Hall in Belfast.

Tim Wheeler (vocals/guitar), Mark Hamilton (bass/stunts) and Rick McMurray (drums/hats) were back in the city to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album 1977, and received the annual Oh Yeah Legend Award before going on stage.

The award is given to Irish acts who have made a lasting impact on the local music scene.

Of course, the very existence of the Oh Yeah Centre – the Belfast music facility named for Ash's top 10 single, their fifth consecutive hit from the 1977 record – has already confirmed that.

On Friday night a full album performance of 1977 offered fans and band alike the chance to revel in some good old fashioned nostalgia, conjuring memories of July 1996 when Ash played their biggest Belfast headline show to date at Maysfield Leisure Centre after topping the album charts two months previously.

After touring the world, the trio returned to Ireland at the end of 1996 to headline the Point Theatre in Dublin – the same arena-sized venue their heroes Nirvana had played only four years earlier, when Ash were just starting out.

Speaking to the Irish News ahead of the Mandela Hall gig, frontman Tim Wheeler said that while he was happy to be marking the 20th anniversary of the record which confirmed Ash's graduation from pop punk contenders to pop stars, the New York-based Downpatrick man was keen that people should not read too much into their freshly minted Legend status.

"It's cool – but I'm a little bit reluctant to become a 'legend'," chuckled Wheeler.

"It's so nice to be recognised at home, but I don't want to feel over-satisfied with myself at all. I'm proud, but I've gotta keep thinking that there's way more still to come!"

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