Thursday, March 24, 2011

Richard Ashcroft: Bowery Ballroom, New York, 3/23/11

There is no point in being an apologist.  As they say, "honesty is the best policy," so I'm just going to come out and say it:  last night's R.A. show just wasn't that good.  Ashcroft, who I've seen perform with The Verve back in 2008 at the WaMu Theater (MSG), is undoubtedly a charismatic guy.  His vocals are sonic and gritty.  He has a loyal following of fans who often deify him as one of the true greats -- not to mention he practically invented the look and style of the modern Brit-rocker. However, his songwriting ability as of late is quite frankly, deplorable.  So bad, that at times, I was actually embarrassed for him. Performing before a sold-out crowd of 500+ at New York's historic Bowery Ballroom, there were regrettably less than a handful of moments that I felt justified Ashcroft's otherwise divine reputation.  

For starters, the music, particularly the lyrics to his new material, is amateur at best.  Singing trite songs about America, life, and repetitively asking (in his latest release) "Are you Ready?" just simply isn't gonna cut it, not in this city at least.   At times, the vocals were uncomfortably loud and muddled (which was a major complaint of the aforementioned '08 Verve show) and the synth sounded more like looped back-tracking than a live instrument. On the plus side, his band was stellar.  Equipped with a Questlove-type drummer and part-rasta, part-Prince influenced guitarist, I think these guys deserve much of the credit for carrying an otherwise lackluster performance by Ashcroft.  Sure, there were a few good moments, like Ashcroft on acoustic for "Sonnet" or the band's decent rendition of "Lucky Man," but overall, I'm afraid this show will be filed in the back-catalog of forgettable concerts I've seen in my lifetime.  

Note to Ashcroft:  next time you make it back to NYC, do everyone a favor and belt-out some acoustic Verve favorites like we know you can. At the end of the day, that's what the people wanna hear.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i appreciate your honesty. too often "the press" is afraid to tell it like it is, because they are in the business of promotion not story telling.