Live Review: Richard Ashcroft – Bonus Arena, Hull


~ 25/04/2019 ~



Photo by – Marc Whiffen


Hull have really upped their game with the new Bonus Arena. The arena itself opened at the tail end of last year and they have already played host to the likes of The Courteeners, Catfish and the Bottlemen and JamesNoel Gallagher and Stereophonics are also booked to play the venue in the next month.

On Thursday night, it was the turn of Richard Ashcroft to bring his mix of solo tunes and The Verve classics to the new arena. The venue itself sits in the centre of Hull so beforehand the boozers like The Admiral of the Humber and Ebenezer Morley which sits opposite the Wetherspoons establishment were bursting to capacity with 90’s haircuts and Pretty Green clad fans, there was a definite buzz in the air for the Wigan-born man.

Support on the night came from DJ Wayne Griggs, the same DJ who supported on Ashcroft’s last tour. Wayne Griggs hasn’t been going down too well as a support act and would be more fitted to playing tracks between acts rather than being dubbed as the support but with the Bonus Arena selling two-pinters of Birra Moretti this just had more people in the bar area than in the arena… And anyway, we were there for one reason and that was Richard Ashcroft.

Ashcroft entered the stage and was quickly into the up-tempo ‘Out Of My Body’, commanding everybody’s attention from the moment he was in sight. In recent years Richard has had his haircut before a tour starts but this ‘Natural Rebel’ tour, Richard was sporting his classic long hair look and even embracing the 90’s with a Gucci bucket hat.

The set was a good mix of solo and The Verve tunes, in fact, it was only the second track when the fans were treated to the emotional ‘Sonnet’.

During ‘Break The Night With Colour’ RPA removed his jacket and revealed a t-shirt from the merch stand with the slogan ‘It’s A Bitter Sweet Symphony My Life’ scrolled across the front, by this point Richard was looking like he was really enjoying the show and doing his trademark low dancing.

Two more The Verve tracks came next, ‘Space and Time’ and a breathtaking raw version of ‘Weeping Willow’. Both these tracks were on The Verve‘s seminal album ‘Urban Hymns’ which was released in 1997.

Although the tour was dubbed Richard’s ‘Natural Rebel’ tour, it felt more like the tail end of his ‘These People’ tour with a couple of new tracks thrown in. Ashcroft only played two tracks from his latest offering ‘Suprised by Joy’ which didn’t go down that well, which is a surprise because the track is a really positive tune, but on the other hand ‘That’s How Strong’ was filled with emotion and the fans were hanging on Ashcroft’s every lyric.

Finishing the set with ‘Lucky Man’, this produced the biggest sing-a-long so far, before Richard left the stage.

Returning for the Encore, Ashcroft played the brilliant ‘C’Mon People (We’re Making It Now)’. The track was originally demoed by The Verve for ‘Urban Hymns’ but Ashcroft later used it on his debut album ‘Alone With Everybody’ in 2000. ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’, is a staple in Ashcroft’s encore and this is a track which Richard fills with so much soulful passion and no doubt reduced a lot of people to tears.

Ashcroft finished the set with the only track he can really and this also unsurprisingly produced the biggest sing-a-long of the night ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’, the tune was also heard through the streets of Hull City Centre long after the gig had finished.

(Review byMarc Whiffen)

 

Richard Ashcroft still has four dates remaining on his ‘Natural Rebel’ tour. (See dates below)