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Ashe Concert Review: 90-Minutes of Catharsis for the Broken Hearted

Ashe played a sold-out show at Royale on April 29.
Ashe played a sold-out show at Royale on April 29. By Courtesy of Jen A. Hughes
By Jen A. Hughes, Crimson Staff Writer

It was a warm return to Boston for Ashe as she played a sold-out show at Royale on April 29. Embodying the artist’s signature fusion of 70’s nostalgia and modern-chic, attendees adorned in bright colors, bell-bottom jeans, and fuzzy, pink, cowboy hats lined the neighboring blocks in advance of the show. Through ninety minutes of resentment, sadness, and even a sprinkling of joy, Ashe sang directly to the broken-hearted, performing a collection of songs exploring every angle of heartbreak.

Returning to Boston was a triumphant moment for the Berklee College of Music alum. “When I lived in this city, I was really insecure… I didn’t think I was good enough to do this” said Ashe between renditions of "Not Mad Anymore" and "Love Is Not Enough." Overcoming insecurity isn’t the only thing that changed between Ashe’s college years and her return to Boston. The show follows up the release of her debut Album “Ashlyn” in May of 2021, which features both songs.

Ashe skyrocketed to popularity with the release of “Moral of the Story,” the lead single on her 2019 EP of the same name. Over a year after the song’s initial release, the track became a viral sensation on Tik Tok following its inclusion in Netflix’s “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You.” While “The Fault Line Tour'' promotes Ashe’s debut album, the tour follows up 2019’s “Mom’s First Headline Tour.”

Ashe’s setlist provides an emotional timeline of the artist’s divorce, the inspiration for many of the tracks on her 2021 debut album “Ashlyn.” From the bitter resentment-driven songs like “Save Myself” and “Moral of the Story” to the pure, unabashed, heartache of “Love is Not Enough” and “When I’m Older” Ashe unapologetically shares the difficult reality of romance gone wrong.

Despite the constant thread of heartbreak in Ashe's discography, it was far from a pity party.
Despite the constant thread of heartbreak in Ashe's discography, it was far from a pity party. By Courtesy of Jen A. Hughes

Each Ashe track features cutting specificity. Lyrics such as “You can slam the door, tell me that I'm like my mother” ground her music in a fleshed out reality while somehow retaining a sense of universality at the same time. It’s an impressive balance that Ashe maintains expertly, allowing audience members to process their own life experiences as they listen to songs about hers.

“I’ve had a really hard time singing this song every night of the tour,” Ashe remarked before beginning a tear-filled performance of “Always.” An ode to a friend who passed, “Always” is a ballad processing the grief of losing someone gone too soon. Overcome with emotion and unable to sing through the song’s chorus, Ashe let the audience take over, belting the track while she listened on stage as tears streamed down her face. Reminding her fans that it’s okay to be vulnerable, Ashe is known to intentionally create a space for audience members to feel and process their emotions at her concerts.

Returning to Boston was a triumphant moment for the Berklee College of Music alum
Returning to Boston was a triumphant moment for the Berklee College of Music alum By Courtesy of Jen A. Hughes

Despite the constant thread of heartbreak in her discography, it was far from a pity party. A stand out from the show came with the performance of “Another Man’s Jeans,” an upbeat crowd-pleaser that had the entire audience dancing along. Whether due to the cowbell featured throughout the song or Ashe’s decision to don a pink cowboy hat borrowed from an audience member, the live performance of the song seemed to take on an extra country flair. The song's bridge, a call-and-response adlib exclaming “Let’s get back together,” took on a life of its own with hundreds of fans screaming the phrase back to the artist. The song was followed up with a vocally impressive cover of Queen’s “Somebody To Love,” which had the entire audience on their feet.

Ashe went on to captivate fans with a performance of the then unreleased track “Hope You're Not Happy.” “Some songs are about wishing someone you used to love the best, this is not that song,” Ashe said, introducing the anthemic breakup track. Attendees picked up the lyrics quickly, cursing ex’s everywhere while screaming along to the final repetition of “I hope you’re not happy, ever again” with encouragement from the pop singer.

Ashe rounded out the set with two of her biggest hits. First performing a solo rendition of her 2021 collaboration with FINNEAS, "Till Forever Falls Apart," Ashe danced across the stage waving a pride flag thrown from the audience. She then closed out the show with a high energy remix of “Moral of the Story,” encouraging audience members to jump with her after thanking her band and fans. From the rock inspired belt of “Somebody to Love,” to the whispered indie melodies of “When I’m Older,” Ashe’s vocal dexterity was on full display throughout the night leaving audience members eager to hear what direction her music will go in next.

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