Last night I took a little trip down to Brighton to see one of the greatest songwriters of the last 30 years (in my opinion), Mr Richard Ashcroft. No matter how many times I have seen Ashcroft play live, every time is an absolute delight and tonight is no exception.
As usual the crowd this evening was being warmed up DJ Wayne Griggs for a full two hours before Ashcroft arrived. The atmosphere at the gig was building nicely with the array of tunes that were being played by Wayne. As soon as Ashcroft hit the stage the response is electric, there are some real super fans on the barrier with their faces adorned with hearts and RA initials. The set opens with ‘Out of My Body’ before the first of The Verve numbers of the evening ‘Space and Time’ and arguably Ashcroft’s most well known solo track ‘A Song for the Lovers’. I sometimes find it difficult to concentrate when photographing when some of my favourite numbers are being played.
A great version of ‘Music is Power’ proceeds Richard thanking ‘everyone for coming out on a Saturday and spending your hard earned cash in these times, that’s about 10 minutes worth of gas you’ve spent on the ticket’ – obviously taking reference to the debacle that is the energy crisis we are currently having to face in the UK! Richard goes on to thank everyone who has supported me over the years, ‘it means everything to me’.
We are treated, as ever, to more The Verve numbers in the form of ‘Velvet Morning’ and ‘Weeping Willow’ from ‘Urban Hymns before solo number ‘Hold On’ is dedicated to everyone who has made it through the last few years and for those that are no longer here. ‘Sonnet’ is our song declares Ashcroft and ‘we are going to sing it together’ and what a rousing rendition ensued.
‘Lucky Man’ always gives me goosebumps when I hear it played live, from the first moment I heard the lyrics ‘But how many corners do I have to turn? How many times do I have to learn, all the love I have is in my mind?’ they have always stayed with me and been etched in my mind. I love that the green The Verve poster used in the music video has the release date for the single in the barcode in the bottom right, a nice touch by the Microdot massive.
The encore sees Ashcroft return to the stage on his own and he proceeds to take us through an acoustic version of ‘C’mon People (We’re Making It Now) before moving into ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ which see the full band come back in towards the end of the song which takes it to the next level. A surprise in the encore (for me anyway) was the cover of Barrett Strong’s ‘Money (That’s What I Want) which arguably was made famous through The Beatles cover of the song for their ‘With The Beatles’ album.
The only way that Ashcroft finishes his gigs is by playing the anthem that is ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ – no matter how many times this man has played this song it’s almost feels like it is the first time. The passion and energy that is released by Ashcroft and also the crowd feels like a spiritual experience.