14 January 1998

Fan Review: Apollo 1998

Manchester, UK
January 14, 1998

The first thing that hit me as I walked into the bar at The Apollo last night was the complete diversity of the people that were there. At the august comeback gigs it was mostly a trendy indie type crowd or people 'in the know', so last night was a complete shock. Everyone and anyone was there...so we take our seats, listen to a few of Wayne's tunes and wait...the lights go down, the screen at the back shows 12,11,10 counting down just like the old films used to. One by one The Verve appear and I'm waiting for everyone to jump out of their seats and hail our heroes..but no-one moves. *BOOM BOOM* It's 'The Rolling People', maybe everyone will get up now that one of the best songs from UH is starting up, but no...no-one moves. So what I initially thought would be a good idea (get a seat, have a good view, my own space to dance without knobheads bumping into me every other second) is turning into a nightmare...I'm left bobbing in my seat while the vast majority around me are not even moving! Not even tapping their feet, or nodding their heads to the beat...'This is THE VERVE, you're not watching a film!!' I'm thinking...(so the advice to anyone going to Brixton who has a seat - unless the crowd is vastly different, blag your way into the standing bit - just say you've lost your ticket to the bloke by the door, its worked before for me at the academy)...

So anyway, back to the gig...'Catching the Butterfly' was next and then an ear deafening, mad 'This is Music'...then the surprise of the night...the next song started and I was trying to work out what it was, thinking maybe it was a new song but then "In a Neon Wilderness..." and it was excellent...really eerie and a bit scary...a film was shown on the screen...looked like the streets of New York at night...excellent..then without a break, straight into 'Weeping Willow', another rasper.

I may be mixing up the order from now on, but 'Sonnet' was definitely played then 'The Drugs...' to great applause, and everyone was singing along. Then 'A Northern Soul' and according to Richard "another lost gem" 'History'. Then 'A Man Called Sun' - someone threw a pair of flip flops onto the stage at this point, so Richard put them on saying that they were a perfect fit! A great version of 'Life's an Ocean' followed with Nick in full effect. Then another highlight for me - a brilliant, different, extended version of 'Bittersweet Symphony'. Unlike previous gigs, the strings were right up front (I think this is due to them being on tape whereas Tong played them before...he just plays the background stuff (The Stones bit to anyone who's heard the sample)). The song seemed to end then start up again and I couldn't help thinking that this version is gonna slay the States when they tour there next.

Then 'Stormy Clouds', I think, to close the set - no 'Reprise' though.

For the encore, Richard came on alone and did a great 'Space and Time' - his guitar playing was excellent, and he was smiling all the way through as he sang "Oh can you just tell me it's alright" and the whole place sang back "It's alright!!"...then the others came back on for 'On Your Own' and 'Lucky Man'. Then the shows closer, 'Come On'...it was so loud, the band seemed to lose the song amidst the noise, then what sounded like the last few bars of the song, turned out to be a prelude to this mad jam at the end...it was almost like a reprise of 'Come On'...by this point Richard was on the drum riser (it looked as though he was hitting the cymbals with his chin!)...then loads of screams of 'Come On!' and it was over. (Nick could barely bring himself to raise his arm at the end in salute, before he sneaked off around the back - not sure if he enjoyed it...).

It was a good gig, some of the songs were amazing..but sitting down added nothing to it...sometimes it was almost like watching someone else's party...everyone down in the standing bit going mad...but it was never going to have the same excitement as the comeback gigs anyway. I'll be standing at Brixton on Friday...

Set list from what I can remember:

1. Rolling People
2. Catching the Butterfly
3. This is Music
4. Neon Wilderness
5. Weeping Willow
6. Sonnet
8. ANS
9. History
10. Man called Sun
11. Life's an Ocean
12. BSS
13. Stormy Clouds
14. Space and Time
15. On your Own
16. Lucky Man
17. Come on + jam

and still no 'Gravity Grave!

Cheers for staying with me!
  • Source: Verve-Tribute: A tribute to what was website
  • Review by Neil