Music review: Richard Ashcroft/Black Grape
Hydro, Glasgow ***
While his impish tourmates came out on top in terms of lithe, catchy new material, their chaotic bolshiness is better suited to a smaller, sweatier venue. Ashcroft, however, has always composed on an arena-friendly scale since his days fronting The Verve, the mildly stirring Sonnet providing a reminder of the band who paved the way for a series of inoffensive stadium acts peddling vacuous highs.
Ashcroft opened and closed his set wearing an uncharacteristically flashy sparkly jacket. It was a shame the music had little in the way of such lustre, mainly comprising introverted banal ballads and formulaic wouldbe epics with pre-recorded strings on tap.
Ashcroft is at his best when not straining too hard for gravity, as on the breezy A Song For the Lovers with its chilled, spacey coda and the light soul pop of Music Is Power which revved up to a wah-wah maelstrom.
However, the fans were here for the 90s indie anthems, mostly crammed into an acoustic encore. Ashcroft abruptly abandoned History when he fouled up a lyric, but The Drugs Don’t Work was potent in its stripped-back form before his band kicked in for the final catharsis.