07 November 1993

Fan Review: The Howlin' Wolf 1993

The Howlin' Wolf
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
November 7, 1993

I first heard of Verve when I read a review of "A Storm in Heaven" in some British music rag. The description of their sound instantly intrigued me.

Since I was into psychedelic music, and always on the lookout for new bands, I picked up a copy. I liked it very much, but it didn't immediately stand out as a great album. A couple of months later, I saw that they were playing in New Orleans.

When we got to the Howlin' Wolf, there were only about forty or so people there. Acetone had just started, though nobody seemed to notice. There weren't many more people there by the time Verve came on. Everyone was sitting at tables, on the floor,etc. and there was nobody up by the stage. When Richard came out, he said "There's too much fucking karaoke in these places. Come on people, we only came from England to play music. Let's get it together and have a good gig." As the crowd slowly ambled up to the stage, Nick's guitar came to life, rising in a slow crescendo that ended with a deafeningly loud chord that I recognized as the beginning of "Starsail."

From this point on, my memory of the show is like a hazy dream. I couldn't believe the difference between their live sound and their album. The drums and bass were MUCH more substantial in the live setting. Also, Richard's voice was incredibly powerful. From the record, I would not have guessed this. His voice on ASIH is very understated and almost whispered, but live he sang everything out loud and clear as if he wanted the whole city to hear him.

After Starsail, Slide Away was next. During that song, Verve became my favorite band. I don't know the entire setlist, but I remember hearing Already There, Blue, Man Called Sun, and Make It Till Monday. The crowd seemed dazed the whole time, which I think irritated the band a bit. They closed with Gravity Grave and didn't do an encore.

I grabbed the poster off the door and escaped into the night, feeling like I had just discovered buried treasure. It would be two years before I would get to see them again.
  • By Stephen Galloway