Live review: Music is power as Richard Ashcroft returns to Newcastle’s O2 Academy

Richard Ashcroft at Newcastle's O2 Academy. Photo: Carl Chambers
Richard Ashcroft at Newcastle's O2 Academy. Photo: Carl Chambers

Music is power, according to Richard Ashcroft, and he’s right about that if his show at Newcastle’s O2 Academy last night is anything to go by.

Melodies flowed all night as the former Verve frontman treated a capacity crowd of 2,000 to a masterful hour-and-a-half-long journey through his back catalogue.

Richard Ashcroft at Newcastle's O2 Academy. Photo: Carl Chambers

Richard Ashcroft at Newcastle's O2 Academy. Photo: Carl Chambers

The Lancashire-born 47-year-old’s set was made up of almost equal helpings of solo material, Music is Power and Break the Night With Colour included, and classics from his time fronting the Verve from 1990 to 1999 and 2007 to 2009.

Surprisingly enough, the alternative rock veteran’s splendid new album, Natural Rebel, a No 4 hit released in October, didn’t get much of a look-in, only two of its 10 tracks making it into his setlist, Surprised by the Joy and That’s How Strong.

That didn’t appear to disappoint too many of those present, though, as it enabled Ashcroft to devote more time to golden oldies such as final encore Bitter Sweet Symphony, Lucky Man, Sonnet and The Drugs Don’t Work.

They were among more than half a dozen songs from 1997’s Urban Hymns, the Verve’s biggest-selling album, played on the night, all being rapturously received.

Richard Ashcroft at Newcastle's O2 Academy. Photo: Carl Chambers

Richard Ashcroft at Newcastle's O2 Academy. Photo: Carl Chambers

Fans of the Wigan singer can look forward to more of the same come the summer too as he’ll be back in Newcastle to headline the last night of the new Wasteland Festival at the city’s Spillers Wharf on Sunday, July 14. Tickets for that show cost £49.50. For details, go to www.wastelandncl.co.uk

Richard Ashcroft at Newcastle's O2 Academy. Photo: Carl Chambers

Richard Ashcroft at Newcastle's O2 Academy. Photo: Carl Chambers