I was recently speaking with one of my old university friends. We were both in agreement that the soundtrack to our ‘era’ at university was the BEST it could ever have been. There was a change in energy, a change in politics, Cool Britannia was in full swing, a new wave of British cinema was born and TFI was the must watch show on a Friday night. Britpop was our soundtrack - and it was truly magical. The air was optimistic and we had a musical genre to own, the way our parents had The Beatles and Bowie.
The Verve and Richard Ashcroft were a huge part of this time. Their breakthrough work Urban Hymns just missed the mainstream Britpop scene in terms of its release date, but it was equally as important. I have always been a fan, not just of the back catalogue but specifically of the showmanship and talent of Richard Ashcroft. He was the Gallagher’s wee cousin. He was northern, so he was one of us.
Was I looking forward to this gig too much? Was I choosing nostalgia?
Opening the show was Black Grape. My Friday night getting ready to go out CD circa ’96. Ryder and co. were mad and still are. Still a bit sweary, though maybe a bit of the shock value has diluted 20 years on. In all my years of going to gigs, I have never seen that volume of people there for a support act – O Come All Ye Faithful certainly resonated. They got the party started on a school night and worked their baggy jeans off. The audience loved every second of it.
And to Richard Ashcroft, the main event. Everyone loves a big tune, a euphoric anthem and maybe that is why I really enjoy his work. A brilliant back catalogue, peppered with some great new work which is just as big and just as important.
Ashcroft said that Glasgow is one the cities who appreciate his work the most and he highlighted his love of the city. It was rock, soulful, psychedelic, indie, it was reggae in parts and was truly one of the most musically amazing nights in The SSE Hydro. It wasn’t nostalgia in the end. Nostalgia had brought me here. What I did find is new work that I feel is just as important as their earlier work and from a musical production perspective showcased a sublime showman and musicians who are at the pinnacle of their form and who worked effortlessly hard to entertain.
Richard Ashcroft is touring the UK. Beg, borrow, steal. It is a masterclass.