by Russell Handy, Music-News.com
Former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft pointed the way out of Adidas adorned and desert booted nineties nostalgia.
For half of this, his only London date, at least.
With such a powerful canon to call upon, besuited and gas-masked Ashcroft blended new songs from his fourth solo album, These People, into a set that went back, then forward then back again to songs first aired two decades ago.
No prizes for guessing what most of this grown-up audience was here to hear.
But with bass drum beat, synths and subtle arabesque sample, opener Out of My Body sounded like a giant leap forward. In interviews, Ashcroft, who has shunned the use of a mobile phone, talks of the new studio tools now available to him. The use of the latest technology on tracks from his first album in six years is evident. Released almost concurrently, singles Hold On and This Is How It Feels both already feel familiar.
The feedback laden New York, from his debut solo album Alone With Everybody, is the closest the night gets to early live Verve, as strobe lighting fills this former railway repair shed.
Ashcroft can change the mood in an instant, moving from balladeer to crouching chest beater.
Break The Night With Colour and Music is Power, both from 2006 album Keys to the World, are extended, with a hint of All Along The Watchtower the only time he drifts (slightly) away from his own work.
With a jumbo Gibson around his neck and alone in front of a mic, there is no doubting the man's raw talent, notable on ballads The Drugs Don't Work and Song For The Lovers, both in his encore.
Live strings for Ashcroft’s urban hymns are absent; that may be for another day, with plans for an orchestral collaboration with Urban Hymns arranger Wil Malone.
As plastic pint glasses fly over his audience for that epic platinum anthem, Ashcroft, prostrate and out of sight, soaks it all up.
The set list:
- Out of My Body (from These People, 2016)
- This Is How It Feels (from These People, 2016)
- Science of Silence (from Human Conditions, 2002)
- Sonnet (from The Verve's album Urban Hymns, 1997)
- They Don't Own Me (from These People, 2016)
- Music Is Power (from Keys to the World, 2006)
- Break the Night With Colour (from Keys to the World, 2006)
- These People (from These People, 2016)
- New York (from Alone With Everybody, 2000)
- Lucky Man (from The Verve's album Urban Hymns, 1997)
- The Drugs Don't Work (from The Verve's album Urban Hymns, 1997)
- A Song for the Lovers (from Alone With Everybody, 2000)
- Lonely Soul (from Unkle's album Psyence Fiction, 1998)
- Hold On (from These People, 2016)
- Bitter Sweet Symphony (from The Verve's album Urban Hymns, 1997)