Back before they had to add “the” to their name, before they hit it big with “Bitter Sweet Symphony” (and drew the litigious attention of the Rolling Stones' former manager [Allen Klein, biggest asshole in the history of the entertainment industry] for a crucial sample in it), before lead singer Richard Ashcroft decided to embark on a terminally dull solo career, the Verve were among the world's finest space rockers.
On the 1993 album A Storm in Heaven and the three EPs that preceded it, these northern English souls dispensed sonic bliss capsules with beatific benevolence. (Read my hyperbolic review of the album for Alternative Press here. Don't believe Ashcroft: the drugs do work.)
Following that aptly titled psychedelic masterpiece, the Verve gradually morphed into more conventional rockers with pronounced sentimental streaks, although 1995's A Northern Soul and 1997's Urban Hymns revealed sporadic flashes of brilliance.
The original Verve lineup (Ashcroft, guitarist Nick McCabe, bassist Simon Jones and drummer Peter Salisbury) reunited in 2007 for (sez Wikipedia) “the joy of the music.” (Touching, isn't it?) This former awestruck fan fears their upcoming Coachella set could be a mawkish fiasco, devoid of the transcendent fire that marked the group's '92-'95 era. But I do hold out a glimmer of hope that the Verve will summon that gripping, levitational magic (and maybe do the sublime “Man Called Sun”)—which is amply demonstrated in the videos below.
The Verve perform Friday April 25 at Coachella.
“All in the Mind”