Gig review: Richard Ashcroft at First Direct Arena, Leeds

Richard Ashcroft at the First Direct Arena. Picture: Anthony Longstaff
Richard Ashcroft at the First Direct Arena. Picture: Anthony Longstaff
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He remains one of Britain’s greatest rock‘n’roll stars and Richard Ashcroft sure knows how to deliver.

After forming The Verve with guitarist Nick McCabe, bassist Simon Jones and drummer Peter Salisbury, he created the iconic Urban Hymns.

It spawned The Drugs Don’t Work, Bitter Sweet Symphony and Lucky Man as it won a BRIT Award and sold more than 10 million copies, becoming the 18th best-selling album in UK chart history.

The band crashed and burned yet Ashcroft has gone on to achieve solo success and his talent remains undiminished.

Certainly he remains one of Britain’s best frontmen and his visit to Leeds as part of a short UK tour went down a storm.

During a show which lasted over an hour and a half and included support from Black Grape, Ashcroft delighted the adoring crowd with a mixture of his solo material and classics from The Verve.

Richard Ashcroft at the First Direct Arena. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Richard Ashcroft at the First Direct Arena. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Kicking things off with Out of My Body as he entered the stage just before 9pm, Ashcroft followed with Sonnet, which goes down nicely.

This Is How It Feels is next before another Verve song in Space and Time.

The mood is then lifted with A Song For The Lovers before several more of his solo tracks in They Don’t Own Me, Ain’t the Future So Bright and the brilliant Music Is Power.

Then comes Velvet Morning and Break the Night With Colour before Ashcroft ends with the beautiful Lucky Man, a track he dedicated to one of his most loyal fans who was there to see the 45-year-old for the 150th time.

Richard Ashcroft at the First Direct Arena. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Richard Ashcroft at the First Direct Arena. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Now it is encore time and he does this to a tee, playing C’Mon People and then two Verve classics in History and The Drugs Don’t Work.

Hold On is next before the seminal Bittersweet Symphony to end.

Ashcroft oozed class, passion and energy throughout as he rightly underlined his status as one of the best musicians in the business.

On this evidence, he should be around for some time yet – and how we should all raise a glass to that.

Black Grape opened the night at First Direct Arena. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

Black Grape opened the night at First Direct Arena. Picture: Anthony Longstaff

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