Review and photography by Jonathan Taylor
On the day of the release of ‘Acoustic Hymns’, a collection of stripped back versions of musical gems from Richard Ashcroft’s back catalogue, The Verve front man takes to the stage at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool. As the evening was billed as an acoustic showcase, the venue is an all seated affair. But it was clear from the off that no one in the audience, at the end of the working week had any intention of remaining seated. The moment Ashcroft walked onto the stage with that trademark swagger the crowd take to their feet.
The set opens with ‘Sonnet’, one of The Verve’s most exemplary tracks from the album Urban Hymns. To open the evening with such an iconic musical offering is testament to the fact that over the decades, Ashcroft has woven a tapestry of fine musical invention. The evening continues with the politically driven ‘Out Of My Body’ which is followed by ‘Space In Time’. ‘Weeping Willow’ is without question one of the evenings highlights. The stripped back rendition, backed with the string section is beyond the realms of outstanding.
Between tracks Ashcroft addresses the crowd and highlights the fact that regardless of what is taking place in such a volatile world that is currently full of so much uncertainty, no one can take away the power of music and its ability to bring people together.
There is no respite from the evenings anthemic masterclass with the likes of ‘Song For The lovers’, ‘Break The Night With Colour’, ‘Velvet Morning’ and ‘Hold On’. ‘Drugs Don’t Work’ and ‘Lucky Man’ both confirm the importance of great song writing and power of live music and its capability to transcend an audience into a sense of solidarity and togetherness.
Icons in music are very few and far between. But tonight, it was clear that Richard Ashcroft confirms again that he is worthy of such an accolade. His music from over the decades is timeless, remains relevant in both lyrical and musical content and its ability to unite the generations was truly an incredible site to behold.
Full Set List:
Out Of My Body
Space In Time
A song For The lovers
Break The Night With Colour
Drugs Don’t Work
Come On People
Music Is Power