Barrowland Ballroom Feature Review

Richard Ashcroft

Come and see this lucky man at home

9 December 2000 

Hymns Vs Anthems Vs Classics

 I was in the downstairs bar of the Barrowland Ballroom happily supping a pint of heavy when I heard the ceiling vibrate with a sound reminiscent of Knocking on Heavens Door but then it dawned on me that Ashcroft had started 15 minutes early and it was actually “Lucky Man” so guarding my pint I made my way upstairs to the throng.

 

Now here is the dilemma, I mentioned the fact that the sound coming down stairs sounded like a cover; the person I was with (20 years my younger) said, “yeah it does sound a bit like Guns an Roses” song. Now why then when Dylan sings it do I think classic and why when Guns and Roses cover it do I consider it an anthem, confused so was I! By this time I am upstairs where a surge of sound, smoke and a congregation of swaying, singing and sweating bodies hit me and this is only the first number! Ashcroft the bastard has added a new dimension to my dilemma - the rock hymn. Not wanting to sound contentious the 90’s only produced 3 great song writers, Thom Yorke Noel Gallagher and Richard Ashcroft and each of these in turn have written some of the finest rock songs of the last decade, Yorke Fake Plastic Trees, Creep and Street Spirit, Gallagher Wonderwall, and Champagne Supernova and Ashcroft some of which he performed this evening. Why are these songs great because they touch a chord with anyone that hears them, can turn a pub into a quire in a blink and will continued to be played on radios for the next 30 years as classics.

 

So what about the gig? Urban Hymns is an apt title for not only a landmark Verve album but for Ashcroft’s performance as his set is both graced and punctured with oodles of them all timed to give perfect balance to the set.  Lucky Man is a sublime and cracking opening to the gig, Sonnet’s elegance makes it a pin dropper; The Drugs Don’t Work is a tearjerker capable of making even a Glasgow Ned cry into his beer and A Song for the Lovers is a whirlwind of class. New and older songs equally as refined but inspiring lesser audience participation like Brave New World, Get My Beat, On a Beach and the immensely innovative New York are spliced into place making for a well-composed evenings entertainment.

 

The oration completed, Ashcroft leaves the stage to adulation without a hint of a goodbye, only to reappear moments later strumming an acoustic guitar for further frenzied worship. He breezes through History before taking a deep breath, regaining composure and playing the first few chords of Bitter Sweet. There are very few moments in rock that can make your hair stand on end but a capacity 2000 punters singing to a man/woman in the Barrowland Ballroom is one of them. He plays the song through in full, in beautiful acoustic and in chorus with the crowd. The acoustics fade out and just when you think that is it, he lowers his guitar steps quietly back out of the spotlight, turns away from the audience for a lingering dramatic effect before spinning back, accompanied now by a full orchestral backing track and band complete with backing singers and brass section. The effect is electric and the crowd go ecstatic as Ashcroft repeats over and over Music, Music, Music, Thank You and You and You and You and You. 

So what makes this a hymn as opposed to an anthem, easy he means it!

 The sermon has ended and this Hymn will never die.

Review by Diamond Dog

Set List

Lucky Man

Space & Time

Get My Beat

Sonnet

C'mon People

On a Beach

You on My Mind

Drugs Don't Work

A Song for Lovers

New York

Encore

History

Bitter Sweet Symphony

http://www.richardashcroft.co.uk/


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