Richard Ashcroft - These People

5 Days of Richard Ashcroft: These People

Day 5 - These People

Has a song been more needed in recent years more than ‘These People’? Rather than attack the Tory divide and conquer tactics with an angst ridden punk polemic, Ashcroft delivers s slide guitar lead ballad.

The message of survival and rising above stacked odds is that bit more inspiring when, one look around Brixton displays thousands of people arm in arm, together and few things are more powerful than that.

His new material, is largely a reawakening of deep seated desire Ashcroft carried to dizzy heights in the 90s. There is a clear ‘fuck you’ attitude to anyone with preconceptions of who he is. While sonically on ‘These People’, this not overt, the power and intensity he garners on the line ‘I know we can survive’ is remarkable.

As he wraps his glorious vocals around this line, it ceases to be about romantic survival and operates on a new plane. He elevates the people to another level where belief is everything. It’s not enough to just sit back and watch bands we love anymore, the standard has been reset again by Ashcroft and its default setting is real, humble and critically, it’s brilliant.

5 Days of Richard Ashcroft: Fighting On Your Own

Day 3 - Hold On

If anyone at Brixton needed the new album sold to them still, 'Hold On' was going to do it. Despite everyone the wrong side of 30, Brixton is transformed from gig watchers to a rave in seconds of the killer strings and piano loop starting.

It’s such a big and hopeful sounding record and consequently, the only track that eclipses The Verve tracks played. It has the unique togetherness of Oasis’ ‘Live Forever’ (‘I feel like we are the only ones alive’) and the defiance of Nicky Wire with the line 'And the truth is on the march again / Wipe those tears away'.

Crucially though, Ashcroft is not so much performing ‘Hold On’ as he is battling it with the audience. He isn’t here to be cherished and will not settle for anyone, let alone adoring fans telling him what they expect of him. Ashcroft clearly see’s performing, especially new material, as a fight where he will be the only one left standing.

Despite the bullishness, his ability to romanticise, to be lost and longing for another to help remains at its best:

“Learning on your own / Can turn your heart to stone”

Oddly, us mortals attach ourselves to this more than his unique ability to lead but, without the two together, you’d be left with something far inferior.