Brixton Academy


“And the more they see the more they say
Thrown like two winter roses into a broken vase”

Suede - Outsiders – 2016

 On Saturday 24th November, the premier of Suede’s documentary ‘The Insatiable Ones’ aired on Sky Arts. It’s a glorious piece of cinema that depicts the London icons in their role as outsiders on their rise to the top.

Fast forward 7 days to Brixton Academy, The Courteeners, supported by Gerry Cinnamon and Zuzu, it was snapshot of what 2018’s outsider looks like. Accessible and great alternative pop songs from all three are treated like leprosy from the same outlets that once gave Suede a chance.

The rejection of British lives being reflected in song writing, especially in bands in recent years, has served nights like this well though. The reaction to having what they love being ignored has been an intense outpouring of togetherness at the live shows. Cinnamon’s name is sung to the rafters, it couldn’t be clearer that he is the breakout act of the year.

Yes, crowds go wild to anthems and they fall silent to the ballads but, there was something else lurking in Brixton. A genuine feeling of “I have to die proving I love this band”, it was almost tangible!

Our lives may not be reflected in the songwriting played on mainstream outlets now, but, it’s only made fans kick that much harder against the pricks.

5 Days of Richard Ashcroft

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.