14 December 2007

From shaky start to smooth sailing

A lot of Northern Soul but The Verve's Stormy Clouds are gone
Article by Sarah Graham, Daily Mail

When your lead guitarist gets cramp in his hand and is forced to leave the stage, it could well spend the end of the show for some bands. But not The Verve. Lead singer Richard Ashcroft, sporting a shocking crop of blonde hair, simply picked up his guitar and began playing The Drugs Don't Work all on his own.

It was well over an hour into the show at this point and the crowd showed its rapturous appreciation for Ashcroft's true showmanship as Nick McCabe left the stage frantically shaking his hand. By the time he returned, the packed 02 Arena was more than ready for arguably the band's biggest hit, Bitter Sweet Symphony.

Only one new song - Sit and Wonder - was given an airing, signalling no great diversion from The Verve we already know and love. But it was true Verve fans that benefitted from the show that largely featured songs from early albums, particularly A Northern Soul. Songs like This Is Music, Stormy Clouds and Life's An Ocean reminded us just what a great guitarist McCabe is and what a massively influential band The Verve have always been. It's hard to believe that just a few years ago the prospect of ever seeing a Verve gig was virtually nil after McCabe and Ashcroft's famous falling out, leading to numerous break-ups. There was no sign of any acrimony last night, even when Ashcroft was left to fend for himself.

I left the arena wondering whether relations between the members could remain so buoyant, or whether this really would be the last time anyone would see The Verve play together again. Fingers crossed they stay on good terms.