Richard Ashcroft, Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham - review with pictures

'The best singer in the world' - not a bad accolade for the guy in the sparkling jacket.

Richard Ashcroft dazzled fans at Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena on Thursday night.

But even though he lit up the stage in a glitzy bomber, this is one singer who doesn't have to rely on gimmicks to wow the crowd.

As frontman of The Verve, Ashcroft was arguably the voice of the Britpop generation.

Even Coldplay's Chris Martin acknowledged this with the accolade as the pair sang together at Live 8.

The Verve's much anticipated comeback in 2008 smouldered rather than fizzed.

So Ashcroft has been back on the road this year with his own band and a new solo album These People to boot.

That unmistakable voice is still packed with emotion bringing joy and a tear to the eye in equal measure.

He joked with the crowd of the changes in the music business as he guided them on a nostalgia trip.

While the long locks have now been shaved, his solo work still stands the test of time such as A Song for Lovers and Music is Power.

Lucky Man and Space and Time were highlights with the crowd belting out the words with gusto.

The staging was effective with giant old TV sets screening powerful imagery and black and white footage from the stage.

At one moment Ashcroft would be bounding the stage getting the crowd to sing in unison.

The next, the lights would dim and it would just be one man and his guitar, busking for appreciation.

A poignant version of The Drugs Don't Work still showed how the song can captivate.

He was joined by members of the band again as it rose to a crescendo.

There was only one way to finish - with Bitter Sweet Symphony - prompting a few tears among the audience.

Ashcroft continues to be a phenomenal artist and singer with all the verve that keeps his fans coming back for more.

By Juliet Hounam

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