He's Got The Keys To The World
Richard Ashcroft proves why he is commended so highly as he took to the stage in Birmingham recently. InSITE’s Paul
Rogers was there!
He was at the pinnacle of the Britpop scene with his band The Verve, but now Richard Ashcroft can claim to be one of Britain’s top solo artists. He put in a barnstorming show at Birmingham’s NIA that will live long in the memory.
It’s always difficult when an artist leaves a top band to go solo, but Ashcroft has taken it in his stride. He may be remembered most for his hits with The Verve, like Bitter Sweet Symphony, The Drugs Don’t Work and Lucky Man, but it was his solo work that impressed me the most.
The support act on the night was Pete Murray; an up-and-coming Australian artist that has the vocal talent to go far but he didn't go down as well as he should have done with the British audience. The choosing of a support act is always a difficult one becasue you don’t really know what the fans want. I want the best that can be offered to make the evening memorable and value for money. But at the same time, an unknown support act can offer the element of surprise, particularly if they’ve got the talent. Everyone has to start somewhere, e.g. who would have thought that The Beatles would be massive international stars when they started out in the humble surroundings of The Cavern?
Nevertheless, even though Pete Murray was reasonably good, no one can begrudge that the night belonged to Richard Ashcroft. He came on singing The Keys To The World, the title track from his recent album. It got everyone off their feet, in awe at the vocal talent that they were hearing. Most of the set list was from The Keys To The World album which was inevitable as it is his most recent work. Top tracks included Music is Power, Why Do Lovers? Why Not Nothing? and Break The Night With Colour. The latter was the final song, which was surprising, as I’d expected it to be a Verve song, for example Bitter Sweet Symphony or Lucky Man. But perhaps this shows that Ashcroft is confident enough in his own music to start and finish with his solo material.
Overall the gig was better than I had expected. I knew that he would deliver but I had imagined that it would be his Verve songs or tracks from Human Conditions, his most famous solo album that I would remember the most. I’m not saying that they weren’t brilliant because they were, but it was his latest stuff that really impressed me and shows that Richard Ashcroft is going from strength to strength.
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