Thursday, November 13, 1997

Fan Review: Vic Theater 1997 (1)

The Vic
Chicago, Illinois, US
November 13, 1997

The Urban Hymns Tour

Riding a wave of rave reviews, The Verve came to the U.S. shortly after the worldwide release of Urban Hymns and embarked on a full-scale tour. The Vic had a line around the corner. I headed to the balcony and grabbed a front row seat, full of anticipation. My Urban Hymns CD hadn't left my stereo during the month since its release. Could they actually pull off the brilliant combination of classic acoustic songs and other-worldly atmospherics?

The venue filled up fast. A great mix tape filled the room with Primal Scream, Beatles and Rolling Stones songs. Accompanying the mix tape was a slide show of sayings and images. The images were similar to those inside the Northern Soul sleeve. The sayings were along the lines of “a crazy person is someone who just realized what's going on.” There was no opening band. It felt very refreshing to not have to sit through an opening band I hadn't come to see in the first place. The boys finally walked on stage to the Electric Prunes’ "Holy Are You".

For about an hour and a half, the band cranked out hit after hit, performing each with aggression and raw passion. Not Nick, of course. He was reserved, spending most of the show facing his effects racks and pedals. "Life's An Ocean", "The Drugs Don't Work" and "The Rolling People" filled the room with drifting guitars and Richard's wails. They played almost every song on Urban Hymns that night, plus a handful of Northern Soul tracks. "Slide Away" was the lone reminder of their earlier days. And "Come On" had replaced "Gravity Grave" as the set closer of choice.

By the end of the show, the band was a sweaty mess, and the crowd was satiated. I left with a huge smile on my face. Outside, crying girls slapped bundles of flowers against the tour bus door, hoping for some attention and maybe an autograph. It was a phenomenal show. They blew away my expectations by sounding tighter and more alive than ever. Unfortunately, it was also the last time they'd play in my city with Nick McCabe as a member.

Note: During their Chicago stop, they actually filmed some of the footage that ended up in the Verve Video 96 – 98.
  • By Jonathan Cohen