Mad Rich is, as we all know, a bona fide legend. So, rather than just review he’s epic performance at Brixton Academy this past Saturday, we’re going to focus the next 5 days on 5 songs from his set.
We start with the 2016 comeback single ‘They Don’t Own Me’.
Having already played classics such as ‘Sonnet’ and ‘Space and Time’, there was a danger that anything new would be seen as a piss break for the audience. However, this is Richard Ashcroft we're talking about.
On record, it’s a good Verve circa Urban Hymns track, but live, it’s alternate beast. Many singers feed of the adoration of a crowd, for Ashcroft, he demands that you go with him. As the adrenaline runs through him, he drags people from awestruck onlookers to brothers in arms.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about ‘They Don’t Own Me’ is, it feels like Ashcroft was reluctant to write it. With all the love and defiance to power he has put out already, it must be odd to do it again.
Nevertheless, a lesson to all aspiring bands is on show here, if you’re going to do it, mean it! The anguish in his voice in the opening line is a testament to how much believes in the soul:
“Is it true what they say? / Nothing in life is free / Are you looking this way / Surely this can't be”
It's in the closing moments that Ashcroft unleashes all his frustration and emotion. With every repetition of 'they don’t own me' he becomes that feral behemoth of ‘Rolling People’ and ‘Come On’.
Despite all the success, Ashcroft, with songs like this, remains that unique blend of outsider and flag bearer of togetherness.