03 November 1997

Fan Review: 9:30 Club 1997

9:30 Club
Washington, DC, USA
November 3, 1997

The Verve live at the new 9:30 Club, Washington DC, 11/3/97

 "….lead guitarist Nick McCabe played most of the show with chin on chest or back to the audience, crafting great, breathing walls of sound." "Amid all the noise, though, the band still found a way to display more personality than ever before. As 'Come On' faded, Ashcroft gave a thumbs-up to the crowd and McCabe, dropping his still-buzzing guitar into the hands of a roadie, lifted chin from chest and - lo and behold - smiled." - ROLLING STONE 

This show was much better than the Atlanta show. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I had a much better spot closer to the stage. The music was incredibly loud, probably the loudest I've ever heard them. The set list was pretty much the same as Atlanta, except they played Weeping Willow instead of Slide Away. Bummer.

Before they started, I was talking to a 13 year old girl and her mother who were up near the front. The only Verve song the girl had ever heard was Bittersweet Symphony and it was her favorite song. I saw them leaving about three songs in. Richard was fired up and gave a great performance although there seemed to be very little connection between the band and the audience. Most of the time, the band members were just looking over the top of the crowd like someone looking at the ocean.

The highlights were Northern Soul and Stormy Clouds. Both great songs that they didn't play on the Northern Soul tour. Near the end of the show, several people were shouting for Gravity Grave, but Richard just pretended that he didn't hear them and went on with the set.

In conclusion, I just want to say that these last two shows were great, but not even in the same ballpark as the first two in terms of intensity. I think that when a band connects on a personal level with an audience, its one of the most amazing feelings in the universe. Artist and fan becoming one and sharing the power of music. Too often, bands become too popular too fast because of a hit single, and unfortunately, this connection is often a casualty of that success. I don't think the Verve could have played any better than they did at these shows. However, since the crowd was so much bigger, and a lot of these people only knew one song by them, establishing this intimate connection was virtually impossible.
  • Review by Stephen Galloway

Washington, D.C.

Last night was the best night of my life...I'm still stunned at having had my mind *totally* blown away. I'd kill to go to other concerts in the tour if I had tickets, but at least I'll see them at that thing on November 30th, screw studying for finals!

Anyways, here's my story...might be a bit long but I just have to share it (as Urban Hymns blasts on my stereo).

I left campus at 2:00 looking forward to the show, expecting it to be good, but I didn't know how good. I got there at 3:00 pm and there were only two blokes there at that point, which had come from the Atlanta show to D.C. Which was neat cos I pressed them for info on the D.J., who up to that point had remained a mystery to me. Anyhow, at one point the band wanted some pot so they got to go backstage with them for a while and got free beer and some stuff signed. I, of course, sitting outside in the cold got jealous. But then again, it paid off in the end. The video bloke came up to me and was like: "we have three minutes left on our tape, its for a verve documentary, so say something". I think I managed to spit something out but then the other blokes he was with told him he was being cruel so he apologized, lol. Then at around 5:30 this roadie dude came up to me and said "Have you been out here all day? You must be freezing" and then said he would've invited me to the bus if Nick hadn't been hiding..

Eventually 7:30 rolled around and we were let inside, and I was rather entertained for a while watching the slides and staring at the DJ...I could see him clearly from where I was as I was dead center in front of Richard, front row...Really good place to be despite nearly getting my ribs to collapse in on themselves. I really liked the dj at first, but after a while everyone got restless and kept asking for the verve...I saw Richard at one point dancing around back there, and Kate was stationed up in the balcony staring down at the crowd with the video camera bloke.

By 9:45 or so the lights finally dimmed and the band stepped up to the stage. I was in a bit of shock, as is my usual concert thing: "oooh err that's not the band". They opened with a new decade if I'm not mistaken...A song I liked on the disc but live just destroyed all previous conceptions I had of music or of the Verve's talent...Richard's dancing around was fab! Nick seemed as calm as Alex James from Blur though, it was great to glance over at fingers working their magic..and Simon! Ack! I kept giggling every time I stared at him! He was bouncing around as he played...Yay! Mind you Ive never seen The Verve live before so I thought this was really amusing!

I didn't really know how to react to the music..which must sound really daft but I was in total shock. I kept screaming at the top of my lungs and trying to push back the drunk girl behind me who kept clawing at me and telling Richard he was 'so fucking hot'. There's always one of those trying to ruin your concert experience...Some songs that really stand out in my memory are...well, Weeping Willow for one. I had heard it during soundcheck but it was still amazing to hear...For the first ten seconds I was off my head screaming then I was just jumping around throwing my fists in the air...Sorry if I hit any of you! On Your Own, History, Life's an ocean, come on, BSS, DDW, Slide Away, Rolling People, stormy clouds, This is Music, Northern Soul, Lucky Man, Sonnet..those were the other songs...though I'm forgetting some of course. I love how the crowd just went totally crazy for the rolling people...and all these people were singing along to history...I would have been had I not been crying and staring numbly at Richard. And just jumping as high as possible during lucky man...

Enough of that, you get the point I'm sure. There were filming the show and the crowd, and since I was right in front of Richard and going crazy maybe I'll be somewhere in it...I heard MTV was there as well...So I'm the psycho fan in the tight black top who looks like the perfect picture of an 80s groupie getting out of her head...When the show ended I just stood still in front of the stage trying to swallow what had just happened...which was hard to do...so I got a glass of water, bought me one of the t-shirts they had, and went outside to the alley to wait around for the band..though I didn't have anything to sign...When I was still alone there the DJ bloke (who was cute I must add, but then again, sow as the camera guy) walked by and he stopped and smiled at me, cos Id spoken to him before the show, so I told him the show was ace and Verve are the 'best fucking band on earth'. He smiled and then I said they used to not be my favorite, so he asked me who had been. I said Blur, so he burst into laughter and said "Blur are rubbish!" Then he said "catch ya later mate". roflmao. Only around 10 or 12 people eventually joined me and everyone else left..eventually we saw Richard getting into the bus so we yelled, begging for him to come and sign autographs...So he did, and we queued up. I didn't have anything so I got desperate and took off the t-shirt Id just bought...I asked him to sign it, and he just stared at me...and said "How am I supposed to do this?" Then as he was signing it by balancing it against the wall I said "Cast no shadow", cos really, at that point there was nothing else I could say. They're taping me for the documentary at this point, and the guy is laughing at me saying "you're not very shy now, are you?". Richard then said "It wasn't really written for me...Its a great song, I wish I'd written it" And me, not having anything less daft to say, was like "it is, but you write better songs!" Then some guys that were there got me a pic of the band, one of those urban hymns ones and I asked Richard to sign that too..I told him it was a great show, as if he didn't know that! Still, the sound guy is laughing at me :P

Almost everyone leaves..by this time it is 1:00 am and we see Simon getting into the bus, there are only 4 of us left..so we dash back to the bus but Simon's already inside when we get there..so we go back to the head of the alley to wait for...well, I don't know what. Then the same roadie who'd talked to me earlier walks up and says "You've been out here all day haven't you?" I said I had, so he said "Well, which signatures are you missing?" I said everyone except Richard, so he took my glossy pic inside the tour bus and got the remaining members to sign it! The other people waiting out there were kinda shocked :P. I thanked the guy ten times over as I held it, shaking, and he said "nah, thank you for coming". So I left the venue at around 1:30 or so as the bus was leaving...

I'm still trying to stomach the whole thing, which is pretty hard to do...I went to the show liking the verve a lot, but liking some other bands--namely Oasis and Blur--a lot more. Now, I still love those bands but..it's so hard to like anything but the verve at this point. They were just bigger than...I don't know..anything! The show was really loud so that helped to get the really heavy bass and amazing guitar flowing...and Richard! He's got spirit, he does...If I listen to anything but the verve for the next couple of weeks it will be a miracle. I cant wait for that Christmas concert!
  • Source: Verve-Tribute: A tribute to what was website
  • Review by KCD