Friday, June 3, 2016

Exclusive - These People review

The Captain Returns
Richard Ashcroft’s These People In Review
By J. Adams

Few rock ’n’ roll icons are so resented by so many of their longtime fans as Richard Ashcroft, former frontman of space rock legends The Verve. Having thrice broken up the band for a mostly underwhelming solo career, and released four flawed albums that amount to promising demos for potentially brilliant Verve songs, Ashcroft has long since exhausted the patience of many who miss the shamanic intensity of old, back when he would still work with artists as gifted as his former bandmates.

Ashcroft’s fifth solo LP, These People, just released after a six-year hiatus, may not change the haters’ minds: it’s inconsistent as per usual, and no doubt would have been better with input from Nick McCabe, Simon Jones, and Pete Salisbury. But taken on its own terms, it’s a rich and rewarding record that demonstrates why Ashcroft is still grabbing headlines and selling out gigs nearly 20 years after “Bitter Sweet Symphony” and Urban Hymns ushered in his brief heyday.

He sounds fantastic, for one thing—Ashcroft’s voice and articulation have become more bruised and nuanced over the years, deepening a magnificently emotive instrument that gives gravity to his wide-screen philosophizing and mostly outshines occasional lapses in songwriting and production. Unlike the bloodless arrangements of previous solo albums, or the blunt overcompensation of 2010’s failed R&B crossover United Nations of Sound, the collection strikes a generally tasteful balance between Ashcroft’s usual acoustic singer-songwriterisms and comfortable retro-electronica with French producer Mirwais, who has worked with Madonna and Fischerspooner, framed with longtime collaborator Wil Malone’s elegant string arrangements. And much of the album was recorded in Ashcroft’s basement, lending the songs a warmth and intimacy beyond most of his prior work.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

"Hold On (Mirwais RMX)" promotional video released

Richard Ashcroft has released a digital EP for the latest single "Hold On," featuring remixes of the single from Mirwais and Brixton Angels.

"Hold On" is the second single from Richard Ashcroft's new album These People, out now. Stream the Hold On EP on Spotify or listen on Apple Music and/or purchase on iTunes.

Hold On EP track list:
  1. Hold On (Album Version)
  2. Hold On (Mirwais RMX)
  3. Hold On (Brixton Angels Remix)
  4. Hold On (Brixton Angels Dub)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Richard Ashcroft: Interview with BBC Breakfast

Richard Ashcroft tickets: Ex-Verve singer to play O2 Arena in December

The Bittersweet Symphony singer will be touring his first album in six years

The former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft is to get back on the road later this year, performing at London’s O2 Arena in December.

Having taken a six-year hiatus following his last album, United Nations of Sound, the singer will be touring new material following the release of his fifth solo album.

Although he is mainly remembered for fronting The Verve, Ashcroft continues to exert his familiar voice that is considered one of the best in rock.

His latest album, These People, takes a socio-political stance. Ashcroft addresses the Syrian refugee crisis, whilst also singing about the invasion of government surveillance, and their monitoring power.

Richard Ashcroft’s new material also poses similarities to some early material from The Verve, and sees him tap into a solemn sound that hasn’t been resurrected since his departure from The Verve.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Richard Ashcroft says he couldn't work with Noel Gallagher because it would 'upset' Liam

Verve frontman previously said that he wants to make a musical with Oasis

Richard Ashcroft has said that he couldn't record an album with Noel Gallagher because it would cause a rift with Gallagher's brother and former Oasis bandmate Liam.

Ashcroft previously spoke of the possibility of working with Noel Gallagher to NME, saying: "In the future who knows what might happen. I wish things like this would’ve happened years ago." He later claimed that he wants to make a musical with Oasis.

Last year, Noel Gallagher said he’d be interested in making an album with Ashcroft. Now, Ashcroft has denied the prospect in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, saying that although he does think it would be a "sensational record", he has a "deep respect and love for his brother" and thinks that the collaboration would "upset" Liam Gallagher.

Ashcroft went on to explain: "[Brotherly love] is like a mafia thing, do you think I would [get in between] those two with a Noel/Ashcroft album and think of Liam festering, listening to it on the radio. I don't think so. I'd be really excited helping Liam… I think he should do his first solo album".

  • Source: NME, by Luke Morgan Britton

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Richard Ashcroft - 'These People' Review

A satisfying return to Verve form that’s also a churning maelstrom of death, riots, revolution, terrorism and two-faced politicians

On the surface, this will thrill cagoule-clad lovers of lush, strumming acoustic rock romance everywhere. Below the surface, it’s a churning maelstrom of death, riots, revolution, terrorism, two-faced politicians and the media surreptitiously manipulating the masses. In such say-nothing times, it’s a huge relief to welcome back a brooding, babbling quote-machine such as Richard Ashcroft. He’s slid back into the left-leaning folk rock world with this fifth solo album after six years cut off from the modern world of demanding smartphones and innocuous timeline fillers. Sat in his basement studio, he’s been watching the decade’s global brutality unfold and formulating his deceptively seditious new comfort listening.

Photo by Dean Chalkley

So opener "Out Of My Body" may be a plush electro-pop groover, but the synthetic sound of falling bombs points to its true meaning. “Don’t go looking for your Watergate,” Richard snarls, decrying the mainstream media’s complicity in distracting the public from their leaders’ plain-sight corruptions before widening the net: “Who employs you? Baby, they’ll exploit you… free of control, the way I like it”. "Hold On" is undoubtedly the first freeway electro-rock song about tear gas and pepper spray being lobbed around at the Arab Spring protest and riots. The "Sonnet"-esque title track tackles the inherent human compulsion to put others down that’s turned the internet into such a turbulent troll nest, while "Black Lines" – this album’s "The Drugs Don’t Work," inspired by the death of a close friend – faces the depressive’s struggle to make it through the long, hopeless nights until dawn. Rarely is a record as melodically sumptuous as a folk-rock Proms and as packed with substance as a Wikileak.

Although "Ain’t The Future So Bright" touches on the vocoder rap inflections of 2010’s United Nations Of Sound, These People is the solo record most aligned to Ashcroft’s Verve peak, right down to employing the same string arranger and bunging on one gigantic romance anthem, "This is How It Feels." It’s both a grandmaster lesson and an antidote to the current crop of insipid singer-songwriter mulch, the sound of Ashcroft charging into the acoustic rock youth centre and showing them how it’s done. “I’m feeling like a number one again”, he sings; it’s a better bet than Leicester winning the league.
  • Source: NME, by Mark Beaumont

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Richard Ashcroft showcases five new songs and performs Verve classics at London comeback gig

Singer's new album 'These People' is out on May 20

Richard Ashcroft showcased five new songs from his forthcoming album These People in London last night (May 16).

The former Verve frontman performed an hour and 50 minute set at his comeback show at the Camden Roundhouse which also saw him throw in classic hits by his former band including "Sonnet," "Lucky Man," "The Drugs Don't Work" and "Bitter Sweet Symphony."

Arriving onstage dressed in the same light blue suit and shades that he wore in the video for his return single "This Is How It Feels," Ashcroft kicked off the show with opening album track "Out Of My Body" before he went on to play four further songs from his new LP including the record's title track, "They Don't Own Me" and recent singles "This Is How It Feels" and "Hold On." He was due to play another new track "Black Lines" but it was cut from the set list. You can view footage of the tracks below.

His fourth studio album These People is released this Friday (May 20).

Backed by a five-piece band, the singer also performed a series of hits from his back catalogue including 'Science Of Silence' which saw him thanking the crowd for “sticking by me”, "New York," "Break The Night With Colour" and "Music Is Power." During the latter he admitted that it was “good to be home” after six years out of the spotlight.

Later in the set, Ashcroft thanked the crowd for being patient with the new material. “Next time you hear this, there will be a room full of people singing "These People," he said after performing the title track to his new record, before he added: “But until then it is just another guy singing a new song.”

But there were huge cheers when he performed classic hit singles by The Verve, which at one point saw Ashcroft perform "The Drugs Don't Work" during a short acoustic section which also included his 2000 debut single "Song For The Lovers."

Wrapping up his set, he rattled off his Unkle collaboration "Lonely Soul" which featured in the movie The Beach, "Hold On" and Urban Hymns classic "Bitter Sweet Symphony." Signing off, he shouted: “Love and peace to you,” before he left the stage.

Richard Ashcroft played:
  1. Out Of My Body
  2. This Is How It Feels
  3. Science Of Silence
  4. Sonnet
  5. They Don't Own Me
  6. Music Is Power
  7. Break The Night With Colour
  8. These People
  9. New York
  10. Lucky Man
  11. The Drugs Don't Work
  12. Song For The Lovers
  13. Lonely Soul
  14. Bitter Sweet Symphony
  • Source: NME, by Damian Jones

Monday, May 16, 2016

RTL2 In Session: Richard Ashcroft

I think These People is the beginning of a great creative 
period for me" - Richard Ashcroft

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Review: Richard Ashcroft at Manchester Albert Hall

Thomas Ingham watches as the former Verve frontman gets a hero's welcome as he returns with new material

Given the unpredicted and runaway success of 1997's Urban Hymns, Richard Ashcroft could have indulged his status as one of the greatest British songwriters with a series of headline shows at Heaton Park, but he's always been a bit more humble than that.

The unshakable assurance he has in his songwriting abilities have allowed the Wigan-born songwriter to brush off ‘mad Richard’ comments and put out a new politically-charged record, These People.

Six years on from the eclectic United Nations of Sound and the unmistakable rich timbre of his voice is supported by an altogether more electronic and breezy ensemble of instruments, offsetting his bleak outlook on international conflicts and issues surrounding freedom of speech.

Manchester’s Albert Hall is the dream venue for Ashcroft; big enough to soak up the anthems but bijou and esoteric enough to cement his position as an outlier in the music industry.

Swaggering onto the stage with arms outstretched, he’s greeted by the kind of reception usually reserved for an FA Cup final. His trademark shades are accompanied by a gas mask which he wears around his neck, mirroring his latest album cover.

Wasting no time, he blasts through new single "This is How it Feels" and Verve classic "Sonnet," pounding his chest and gesturing to the adoring crowd after every chorus.

The confidence in his new material is well placed; "Hold On" and "These People" feeling like instant classics with their infectious hooks and shimmering production.

Throughout the set Ashcroft seems vitriolic; thanking fans “one of the best nights of his life” before shouting out Mancunian icons Shaun Ryder, Stone Roses and The Smiths during "Music is Power."

The tone ranges from acoustic balladry to fuzzed-out psychedelia, a transition which highlights his abilities as a bandleader. "Lucky Man" draws one of the biggest receptions of the night, with Ashcroft taking two swipes at the intro “It’s too good of a song and it’s been too long, let’s start that again”.

After a long encore, he ditches the waistcoat and comes out in more traditional 90’s Brit-pop regalia, performing a solo rendition of "The Drugs Don’t Work" and bringing a tear to the eye of many as he dedicates it “to those who can’t be with us tonight”.

His natural gift for coupling depressingly frank lyrics with uplifting and euphoric music is demonstrated perfectly by the majestic set closer "Bitter Sweet Symphony."

Being the seldom-seen rockstar that he is, the night seems equally as overwhelming for Ashcroft as it is for the fans. The conviction with which he delivers this career-spanning set couldn’t be sustained over a more extensive UK tour, and nor should it be.

As much as he adores the crowd and performs a large chunk from Urban Hymns, this is ultimately catharsis for a true musical enigma and British master - a fleeting glimpse of his genius.

  1. Out Of My Body
  2. This Is How It feels
  3. Science of Silence
  4. Sonnet
  5. They Don’t Own Me
  6. Music Is Power
  7. Break The Night With Colour
  8. These People
  9. New York
  10. Lucky Man
  11. Black Lines
  12. The Drugs Don’t Work
  13. Space And Time
  14. Lonely Soul
  15. Hold On
  16. Bitter Sweet Symphony