The Verve frontman returned to his hometown to a crowd of young and old revelers last night. Complete with a full backing band, Ashcroft treated the arena crowd to a backlog of his finest along with some new tracks from his recent album. 

With a classic Manchester swagger, Ashcroft waltzed onto the stage wearing an oversized bucket hat, perhaps a nod to the infamous Brit Pop era in which Ashcroft was a pioneer. First on the set list was ‘Surprised by the Joy’ from the 2018 album Natural Rebel.

This was followed by a beautiful version of ‘Sonnet’ which certainly proved why Ashcroft was once crowned songwriter of the year at the Ivor Novello awards and more recently recognised by then for his outstanding contributions to British music. His voice didn’t falter once, if anything, it sounded better, as though the lyrics have grown more meaningful over time. 

The set list was strong, The Verve intertwined with solo work, most notably ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ and ‘Lucky Man’ with highlights from Ashcroft’s solo work being ‘A Song For the Lovers’. Finishing with a classic Urban Hymn, the set ended with ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ sung in unison by the 15,000 fans in the arena and led by a lad from Wigan who at times seemed taken aback by the magnitude of his audience.

At fifty-one years old, we forget that Ashcroft has been a prominent part of the music scene for over thirty years, and gauging by the reaction last night will continue to do so for a little longer yet. 

More information, news and tour dates can be found on Richard’s official website HERE