- 01 Sep 19
Good King Richard
Fair play to Richard Ashcroft. Apparently he's as mad as a brush in a hurricane, but he knows what he's doing when it comes to festivals. I was finishing a bit of work (right!- Ed.) so the set had already started when I came around the corner to the strains of 'Sonnet' from The Verve classic Urban Hymns. It might be hard for some of our younger readers to remember but this was an album that was everywhere, positively inescapable, back in the day (the late '90s), and with very good reason because it took the earlier "mad" Verve vibe and married it to a set of tunes that your milkman, if you were still lucky enough to have such a thing, was whistling while he walked up your garden path.
Now, I wouldn't be the number one fan of Richard's solo fare so 'This Is How It Feels' from These People wouldn't really be for me with its complicated "Yeah oooh" chorus. It does pick up a bit when he goes into a snatch of 'Purple Rain' as his guitarist wails away, because it's a better song but, to be fair, it's a better song than 99% of other songs too. As I said, he knows what he's at, so next up is a suitably epic 'Space And Time' which is great, although it does go a bit "rawk" at the end. This is a fine band of musicians but Nick McCabe brought something unique to everything he did. 'A Song For Lovers' is a good one too, breaking down to let the crowd do a bit of oohing and yeah, yeah-ing.
'They Don't Own Me' doesn't do much for me but Hot Press snapper Señor Miguel Ruiz is beside me, an ardent fan, and he loves it, so what do I know? 'Lucky Man' in the sunshine is glorious, as is a mostly acoustic 'The Drugs Don't Work'. It's so good in fact that we'll gracefully skip over 'Hold On' although Ashcroft does use his sunglasses to play a bit of slide guitar at its end, which is pretty fuckin' rock n' roll to be honest.
"For anyone who's facing a water cannon in the next few days, this is Bittersweet Symphony!" Now we are talking business. I mean that refrain! Ashcroft lets the crowd sing a lot of it and when you look around and see people arm in arm, kids up on shoulders - someone even lets off a flare! - you know you're having one of the moments of the weekend. Miguel and I are roaring and shouting and smiling. Fantastic.