By Desh Kapur, Rock At Night Manchester
Venue: The Albert Hall, Manchester-Richard Ashcroft–December 23, 2018
Merry F*@king Christmas Manchester
Legendary front man of The Verve, acclaimed solo musician, Iconic British Rock Star, best voice of his and many a generation, and the laudations just keep coming.
No pressure then as he strides confidently on to the stage at Manchester’s iconic Albert Hall, turns to face the sold out Albert Hall crowd and raises his arms in the air-you know this is going to be magical.
Wearing the obligatory large black Ray Ban sunglasses and sporting the classic Richard Ashcroft mop top (so glad he has done away with the Papillion shorn head look), camouflage jacket and jeans, he just oozes cool,
Kicking off the night with ‘Hold On’, a track from 2016’s album These People, and then into the first Verve track of the night “Sonnet”, and all of a sudden it’s a love in-Richard Ashcroft slapping his chest and pumping fists acknowledge the honour in being part of North West’s musical history, and The crowd cheer and shout in return. This is followed by ‘Surprised by the Joy’ from his latest record ‘Natural Rebel’.
His stage presence alone is something else; from standing there with his arms folded across his chest, to using his glasses to play the guitar or lying on the floor while wailing out a chorus- all add to that incredible voice, cool as f@£K attitude and amazing melodies and song writing. And that, my friends, is why he is a legend and why albums like Urban Hymns are still revered today. He played a mixture of Verve songs and his solo stuff, “Break The Night With Colour”, “A Song for Lovers”, “Birds Fly”, “Lucky Man”, “Weeping Willow”, “They don’t Own Me”, “The Drugs Don’t Work”, “Space And Time”, and finishing the night with a spectacular rendition of “Bitter Sweet Symphony”. The crowd were giving it their all in return. So what did I learn tonight? He has a great voice, his song writing is brilliant, he is a very cool human, but most of all, I learnt Richard Ashcroft is still very, very, very relevant.