23 July 1995

Fan Review: The Metro 1995

The Metro
Chicago, Illinois, USA
July 23, 1995

The "Conquering America" Tour
With Support by HUM

It was summer again and almost a year to the day since my last Verve gig. I was living in Bloomington, Indiana and had never been to Chicago before. All I knew was The Verve were playing there, so I had to get there somehow. I bought my friend a ticket to the show as a birthday gift so I'd have someone to drag up to Chicago with me. Once in the city, we got extremely lost, but managed to find our way to The Metro about six hours early. I even found a parking space in front of the venue.

A Northern Soul had just been released, but I hadn't commandeered a copy yet. So I navigated my way to Reckless Records and acquired the CD. I didn't have a chance to hear it before the show, so I had no idea what to expect.

The Metro has a balcony, which offers a perfect view of the entire stage about 10 feet above the band. I parked myself in the center of the balcony, right up against the railing. By the time Verve came on, it was late. The room was smoky and dripping with a combination of body heat and anticipation. Richard had on his traditional skin-tight red jeans. He took his shoes off immediately and stashed them behind an amp. Most of A Northern Soul was performed that night, minus History. The highs and lows drifted through the room carrying all of us through the sets ebb and flow. It was a beautiful night. There was one moment I'll always remember. In between songs, it was very quiet and a revolving spotlight stopped right in my face. The rest of the room was pretty dark. Richard looked up and seemed to be staring right at me. He has a rather intimidating glare. When my eyes met his, I froze. I wasn't sure what to do, so I gave a stupid smile and a little wave. He gave me a stern nod. Then, someone yelled “She's A Superstar” as a request, and the band willingly launched right into it.

When the set ended and the band left the stage, Richard came back out with an acoustic guitar and took a seat on a stool. The rest of the band stayed backstage. With a lone spotlight on him, he played a rough version of The Drugs Don't Work, unaccompanied. The song was amazing and unlike any of their others. I didn't know that Richard even played guitar before that moment. Shortly after that show, the History single was released. I remember racing to the store to buy it, praying The Drugs Don't Work would appear as a B-side or demo. No such luck. A few weeks after History came out, Verve announced their break-up (the first one, anyway). When I heard the news, the first thing I remember thinking was how horrible it was that I'd never get to hear The Drugs Don't Work again. Thank goodness they gave the band one more try and gave me my song.
  • By Jonathan Cohen