11 January 2023

Liam Gallagher explains the brilliance of Richard Ashcroft and The Verve

During the 1990s, northwest England was famously fertile ground for music, with Oasis at the centre-point of the notoriety. Down the road in Warrington, The Verve were also creating magic, and Liam Gallagher was one of the biggest fans from the early days.

The Gallagher brothers built up a friendship with The Verve and grew particularly close with their frontman, Richard Ashcroft. On their second album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, Noel Gallagher wrote the track ‘Cast No Shadow’ for Ashcroft. During an interview with Select magazine, Noel explained: “He always seemed to me to not be very happy about what was going on around him, almost trying too hard. That’s why it goes, ‘He was bound with the weight of all the words he tried to say.’ I always felt he was born at the wrong time and in the wrong place, and he was always trying to say the right things, but they came out wrong.”

Noel continued: “I played him the song, and he nearly started crying. I was like, ‘Come on, hold yourself together, son! Easy now. In a way, it’s about all my friends who were in groups. We are bound with the weight of all the words we have to say. We’re always looking for more.”

Ashcroft later described ‘Cast No Shadow’ as “a great honour” while in conversation with Q. To this day, the former Verve frontman still associates with Liam, most notably delighting fans as a special guest at Finsbury Park in 2018. The Britpop duo also collaborated in 2022 as part of Ashcroft’s single, ‘C’mon People (We’re Making It Now)’. The friendship has lasted the test of time and seems to have grown stronger with age. The Verve left an impression on Liam when he first saw them play an intimate show in Manchester, and the group went on to support Oasis at a series of concerts, including at London’s Earls Court in 1997.

Speaking to NME Gold (via Oasis Mania) in 2017, Liam recalled: “The first time I saw The Verve was in Manchester, at the Hop & Grape or somewhere like that. They were fucking heavy in the early days. I loved touring with them with Oasis. Whereas we were a bit more punky, they were out there: more a jam thing. I just remember Ashcroft having his socks and shoes off and all that. I saw Richard recently, we were both doing a gig in Finland: he was on fire. His voice has got really gnarly, and he was on his hands and knees, good energy about him.”

Liam proceeded to praise how The Verve changed their sound on Urban Hymns, which some believe was a result of Oasis’ success and a capitalisation on changing trends. Gallagher also dished out the ultimate compliment by claiming “they don’t make” bands like The Verve anymore. He added: “A lot of people, proper Verve heads, didn’t like Urban Hymns, but I think there’s some amazing songs on that. Before, they didn’t have that. ‘Blue’ is an amazing song, but all the songs on Urban Hymns are great. I remember when it was kicking off for them, we were in America and hearing about it. It was like. ‘What’s going on with this? better get back to England and sort this shit out.’ But I loved them, I really did. They don’t make them like that anymore.”