Indie superstar Richard Ashcroft rounds out a glorious sun-kissed Easter bank holiday weekend on Tyneside.

Following dates last summer with the likes of The Rolling Stones and Roger Waters, The Verve frontman is currently out on the road in support of his critically acclaimed latest album Natural Rebel. With several arena dates featuring on Ashcroft’s current UK run, this evening’s show at the O2 Academy Newcastle is one of the most intimate dates on this tour. It goes without saying that tonight’s date in the North East has long since been sold out.

Following a warm-up set from DJ Wayne, who took the audience through both an audio and visually stimulating first half of the evening, the man of the hour takes to the stage, bedecked in a camouflage jacket and hat. Richard Ashcroft this evening looks the epitome of rock and roll cool. The atmosphere inside of the room at a fever pitch from the off.

The Verve’s seminal album Urban Hymns was the soundtrack to the student days of many in attendance. Upon its release in 1997, the record was the cornerstone of any self-respecting muso’s record collection, spawning a whole raft of hit singles.

This evening, you can hear just how important many of those songs mean to the capacity crowd in attendance who sing wholeheartedly and at the tops of their voices throughout. Early airings of classics such as the spellbinding “Sonnet” and “Space and Time” transport the Geordie faithful to Indie rock heaven. Tonight much like the man himself, the Geordie choir are in fine voice and almost act like an army of backing vocalists.

This evening’s approximately 90-minute setlist is split roughly 50/50 between Ashcroft’s solo material along with choice cuts from The Verve songbook.

Despite the fact that Richard Ashcroft has a new album under his belt, only a small smattering of tracks from Natural Rebel feature in the set this evening. This includes an uplifting rendition of the first single from the record “Surprised By The Joy” along with a heartfelt performance of “That’s How Strong”. The latter of which being somewhat different from the rest of the material featured in the set, and not in a bad way, it is reminiscent in places of a 60’s pop ballad.

With now five solo albums behind him, Richard Ashcroft’s solo material carries equal weight and significance in the setlist as those from his band days. Fan favourites such as the epic “A Song For The Lovers”, the infectious “Science of Silence” and a euphoric rendition of “Hold On” being a testament to this.

Grasping his acoustic guitar, Richard Ashcroft closes out his main set with the unmistakable “Lucky Man”, which is immediately greeted by cheers – the crowd hangs on every word and a sea of cell phones illuminates the room.

Returning to the stage entirely solo, Ashcroft leads the audience through a mass singalong by way of “C’mon People We’re Making It Now” and an astounding performance of “The Drugs Don’t Work”. That is until the Verve frontman is reunited with his four-piece backing band for a showstopping performance of the anthemic “Bittersweet Symphony”, which is the cherry on the top of tonight’s Indie rock extravaganza.

For those who weren’t lucky enough to snap up a ticket for tonight’s show, Richard Ashcroft will be returning to the North East for his biggest concert in the region to date with a headline appearance at Wasteland Festival on 14th July. On the strength of tonight’s performance, this will be a show not to be missed.

Richard Ashcroft
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Event Date: 22-April-2019

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.