Richard Ashcroft performing his These People Tour at The First Direct Arena Leeds on Saturday 22nd April 2017

Review by Kevin Cooper

Richard Ashcroft is the man of the comebacks having come back as a singer songwriter in 2006 with his Keys To The World album, and then he reunited with Nick McCabe to bring back the hugely successful Verve in 2008. When that smouldered rather than exploded, Ashcroft went back on the road as a solo artist, and it was a packed First Direct Arena that turned out to witness a solid performance last night.

Delighting the adoring crowd with some of his solo material, it was the Verve material that got them out of their seats and on their feet. Stepping on to a stage that was very effective with its giant old TV sets screening powerful black and white imagery, he opened with his own song, Out Of My Body from his latest album These People which was released last year.

Launching into a fantastic rendition of the Verve’s Sonnet he quickly followed up with his own This Is How It Feels, which showcased his unmistakable voice. Showing how comfortable he is on stage, other songs from his Verve days were given an outing. Space And Time and Velvet Morning were mixed up with the likes of his solo material, They Don’t Own Me and the brilliant Music Is Power.

The concert was very solid and intense and just like Ashcroft’s voice it had its clear peaks, the height of which was when he finished his main set with the beautiful Lucky Man, a song dedicated to a fan that was seeing him for the 150th time.

For the encore the Verve’s front man played a poignant The Drugs Don’t Work which showed how the song can still captivate as the crowd sang along. Other encore songs included C’mon People (We’re Making It Now) and History, before the evening was brought to a thumping end with Bitter Sweet Symphony.

Ashcroft continues to be a phenomenal artist, who oozed class and passion and rightly underlined his status as one of the best musicians in the business.