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[Review]Richard Ashcroft in Boston (Mar. 24, 2011)  

2011-03-28 11:43:58|  分类: Interviews&repor |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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[Review]Richard Ashcroft in Boston (Mar. 24, 2011) - the verve - verve中文网

Richard Ashcroft’s intimate acoustic set in Boston on Thursday night was an eye-opener for me, on several levels. I was probably the only person there not all that familiar with Ashcroft’s solo career, nor his heady days as lead singer and songwriter for The Verve - a well-loved band (especially in the UK) with a rather volatile past, having split up after three of their four albums. I don’t know if I was expecting an arrogant front man, or maybe a British aloofness, but I was definitely not expecting a warm, deeply spiritual and introspective songwriter on solo acoustic guitar, singing heartfelt ballads about being lost and alone, searching for life’s meaning and a sense of connection. I was greatly fortunate to have stumbled upon this show, and to see what I now understand was a rare appearance - rarer still that it was solo. It was a chance to be introduced to the man’s powerful storytelling and soulful voice in a pure, unadulterated form.  
The show was presented by Bowery Boston at an unlikely rock venue, Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, a Latino Cultural Center. The center is a small, yet spacious hall with wonderful acoustics, a balcony and large stained glass windows that give it a converted church feel. This evening was also part of the Jim Beam Live Music Series, and the performance was professionally filmed by a five-camera crew.   
Ashcroft’s expansive set spanned his four solo albums as well as Verve favorites, mostly from their platinum-selling Urban Hymns(see set list below). A veteran of huge stadium shows, he was clearly enjoying the smaller yet deeply appreciative audience, engaging in friendly banter with the audience between songs, and sharing stories (though, oddly his eyes remained closed both during songs and in between). 

“History” opened the show with a wistful yearning that pervades many of Ashcroft’s compositions. He then acknowledged his long time away with, “Who’s had kids since the last time I was here?” (He was busy raising his during time off the road.) “Sonnet” was lovingly performed with audience accompaniment: “Yes, there’s love if you want it / Don’t sound like no sonnet, my lord.” His repeated phrases, which he uses to great effect in many of his songs, had tremendous emotional power, feeling like meditative chants. A spacey effect at the end of “Sonnet” added dimension to his crisp acoustic guitar strumming, and was an affectionate nod to his psychedelic past. The song slowed to a final chord, beautifully executed, and was followed by rapturous cheers. “It’s said that people in my generation don’t write songs that last, that are timeless. We’ve proved that wrong tonight.” Indeed. “Check The Meaning,” from his solo album Human Conditions, then followed. A soulful ballad with spoken word “raps” in the later verses, offered another of those repeated phrases (“check the meaning, check the meaning”) that I found so emotionally stirring. 

Many audience requests shouted out at this point, the loudest of which he promptly fulfilled with the haunting and desolate “On A Beach,” from his solo debut Alone With Everybody. There was such a strong audience-performer conversation throughout that reminded me of why I love going to live shows, especially when there’s this level of connection in the room. Ashcroft satisfied everyone’s wish list, even when he didn’t quite remember all the words to a particular song, or something didn’t quite work as an acoustic number. “So Sister” was attempted; he played a few lines before slipping into The Verve’s “Velvet Morning.” Later he started the rap-chant of “Third Eye”, and then explained “If I had an orchestra and about four other guys, we’d be playing it now.” 
Songs from Ashcroft’s new solo album The United Nations of Sound – “She Brings Me The Music,” “Are You Ready,” “A Thing Called Life” – suggested a newfound sort of peace for a man who has admittedly suffered from depression much of his life, sentiments that are echoed in his songwriting. It’s not a blind acceptance, but rather the tranquility of an old soul who finds simple joys where one can, informed by the knowledge and experience of many lives lived.  
For the final song of his encore, Ashcroft offered a lengthy and humorous introduction to The Verve’s most popular hit, “Bittersweet Symphony.” He described his initial hesitancy in performing it, knowing that critics (British critics, in particular) would slam him for “living on his former glories” (which of course, they did), but his recognition that the band wanted to play it, and people wanted to hear it. Able to laugh at himself, he recited the regular Spinal Tap routine he likes to perform with his sound man: “Are we playing ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ tonight, Richard?” - “No, we are fucking NOT doing “Bittersweet Symphony tonight!” But claiming that with just one man and a guitar, he could make the song his own, he then went on to raise the emotional level in the room about 100x, with an absolutely beautiful acoustic version. And for the record, he didn’t perform “Bittersweet” the previous night in New York City, his only other show in the States, and a show with a full band.

The United Nations of Sound, just released here in the U.S. this past week, is Ashcroft’s first solo album since 2006. It is a collaborative effort with hip-hop and R&B producer No I.D., who has worked with Kanye West, Jay-Z and Rihanna. The album includes programmed drums courtesy of No I.D., a full band and orchestration, and brings in blues and hip-hop elements which meld with Ashcroft’s songwriting prowess and engaging vocals. This ambitious effort--along with a song he co-wrote with composer Thomas Newman for the Matt Damon film “The Adjustment Bureau” (“Are You Ready” from the new album is also used over the closing credits)--will hopefully bring Ashcroft wider recognition as a solo artist, a recognition he deserves.

Opening the evening was local singer-songwriter Mike Fiore of Faces on Film. melophobe has seen him both with a full band and now solo, and can attest that, in any setting, Fiore’s music is some of the most emotionally powerful Boston has to offer. 

[Review]Richard Ashcroft in Boston (Mar. 24, 2011) - the verve - verve中文网
 Set List :
01. History   
02. Sonnet   
03. Space and Time   
04. Check The Meaning   
05. On A Beach   
06. Lucky Man   
07. (part of So Sister)  
08. Velvet Morning  
09. Music Is Power  
10. She Brings Me The Music  
11. On Your Own   
12. (part of Third Eye)  
13. The Drugs Don’t Work   
14. Are You Ready   
15. You On My Mind In My Sleep   
16. This Thing Called Life  
17. Weeping Willow   
18. A Song for the Lovers   
19. new song?  
20. Bitter Sweet Symphony 

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