Glasgow: Barrowland, Sun 11 Jan ****
When you're as mysteriously distant from the diet pills 'n’ coke Laandaan music machine as The Verve, chances are you’ll spawn rumour like lesser bands generate Ginsters pastie wrappers on the tour bus floor. Hence the tale, probably apocryphal, that while playing The Venue in Edinburgh back in the primeval mists of 1993, Richard Ashcroft wet himself on stage.
But those were the ‘Mad', bad days when smart-ass caption writers were more interested in Ashcroft’s nutterdom than Nick McCabe's guitar odysseys. Tonight, with Urban Hymns enjoying squatters’ rights at the business end of the charts, with a papal bull of endorsement from Noely G, and with the music press so far up the band’s rear end they're writing
‘ awestruck eyewitness accounts of
Simon Tong’s small intestine, The Verve are back. And this time they're not pissing around.
So, when Ashcroft swaggers on stage, hood up, bobbing and weaving on the balls of his feet, he may look like a child’s drawing of Mick Jagger - all collagen kisser and amphetamine whippet frame — but in his mind he's the Heavyweight Champ, he’s The Greatest, he’s Ali. Which, I guess, makes us George Foreman, about to
be sucker-punched by The Big Music.
An incendiary ’Weeping Willow’, a grinding 'This Is Music’ and a mighty version of 'Sonnet’, which suggests the band have had more than fourteen lines, put the long-haired, smoke- wreathed crowd on the ropes, and that’s before the hits kick in. When ’The Drugs Don’t Work' — the most downbeat Number One of all time — is finally introduced with a wry, 'We wrote this with the kids from Grange Hill’, it’s a knock-out. This song’s sentiments and sound - a kind of melancholic countryfried euphoria — would have been unimaginable as a zeitgeist-defining anthem a year ago. But now, it's as if Gram Parsons went into rehab and wrote a song which the whole world fell in love with. Hundreds of visibly chemically- influenced punters singing along with this post-Prozac mantra is strangely affecting for all its contradiction.
What can a poor boy do after such a communal comedown but retune to ROCK!? ’It's time to get moving now!’ Ashcroft snarls and irony can kiss his skinny backside. if you haven't got yer rock ’n’ roll hat on by now, then please leave quietly by the side exit and mind you don't trip over that ‘lightweight Keef Richards as you go. Ashcroft is filled with the power of MUSIC and he's ready to testify, to whoop, to holler and to speak in tongues while the band lay down freeform epic ’Life’s An Ocean' and Zep-u-like groove ’The Rolling People'. Tellingly, during a majestic ’Bittersweet Symphony’ he doesn’t try and shoulder his way through the crowd like wot he does in that video. This is Glasgow after all. A disappointingly plodding, string-bereft
’History’ and they're off.
Hang about though, here’s Richard strapping on his acoustic for a moving reading of 'Space And Time', before his brethren in rock troop back on for a charged, sprawling run through 'Lucky Man' — dedicated to Kate
The Verve: pant-wettingly good
Radley (Spiritualized keyboard Wizard and Ashcroft's missus) — and a final apocalyptic 'Come On’. A committed performance from a band of true believers. Like their hometown of Wigan, The Verve have few peers. (Peter Ross)
58mins? 23 Jan—S Feb 1998
Asian Dub Foundation: they will blow your pants off
Glasgow: Garage, Thu 14 Jan * ‘k ‘k
Due to an administrative cock—up on the part of your correspondent, The List arrives at the Garage to find that first band up, theaudience, has been and gone. Worse still, the old fallback of asking friends, colleagues and complete stangers their opinion seems to reveal that only a select and discrete few had had the pleasure, or not, of hearing theaudience.
Glossing quickly over our time- keeping failures, the Warm Jets provide a mixed bag. One minute it's all epic guitars and slow-movmg pseudo-gothery while the next we get slapped about the chops with a perky pop ditty complete with a jaunty singalong wooh-wooh chorus. It's all pleasant enough but neither inspiring nor incendiary.
The reverse is true for Asian Dub Foundation. ’That’s 1000 years of lndian punk for you,’ bellows bassist Dr Das after a ball-crushing five-minute slab of shouty rapping and furious breakbeats. The crowd sweats heavily in response, while those of a nervous disposition are carried away Suffering
from shell-shock. There's a brief reSpite and then Sun-J Starts conjuring what sounds like an air-raid siren from his keyboard. Pandit G leaves time for this to sink in and then muscles in on the act with huge, shuddering dub platters. Rapper Master D smiles a little to himself and then throws himself on top of guitarist Chandrasonic. Chandrasonic retaliates by taking a friendly swipe With his guitar at Master D's head. Boys Will be. boys and sonic carnage seems to be the toy of choice,
if the electriCity board could figure out a way of harnessing the energy expended by Asian Dub Foundation as they bounce all over the Garage then the impending fossil fuel shortage would shrivel into insignificance. Until then, you should grab every chance to see them before they are banned for inciting riots.
All Of which leaves us With The Stereophonics. In the past year, the threesome have toured their arses off, honing a tight, explosive set of songs that burst With passion and conviction. Except tonight, when they sound flabby and stale. The cords on Kelly’s neck still stand out dangerously when he Sings but the feeling ain’t there, iust the actions. Perhaps they only sounded flat compared to the preceding vibrancy of Asian Dub Foundation but they are capable of better.