The Verve Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto ON May 1
Published May 25, 2008In what could be the most logical reunion of recent years, the Verves first comeback gig on Canadian soil came just after wrapping up their "best album yet and a celebrated Coachella set. As the four original members crossed the stage in good spirits and decked in Toronto FC garb, only minutes after the clubs match ended, their reputation of being one of Britains greatest live rock bands ever quickly came into effect with "A New Decade. The seminal lead track from their masterpiece, A Northern Soul, provided the necessary jolt after an hour-long wait; front-man Richard Ashcroft reprised his role as Mad Dick, weaving and bobbing like the superstar waif he was in the mid-90s, while once-estranged guitarist Nick McCabe found his touch once again to blow the eardrums of onlookers. Mostly visiting moments from their second and third albums, they tapped into the magical groove of "Lifes An Ocean and proved ballads can win over a crowd in a minor hockey league arena, with a well-manipulated rendition of the strings-led "The Drugs Dont Work. They even surprised everyone with an oldie: the hollowed-out "Already There from their debut, A Storm in Heaven. As great as it was to see them up there, doing their thing once again, the Verve werent exactly perfect. Talk of a return to their early psychedelic roots was quashed with the Urban Hymns-heavy set, much to the disappointment of long-time fans (and seemingly a somewhat disinterested McCabe), as they filled the majority of their set with the MOR standards that made them as big as Oasis in 1997. And the evidence of this "best album yet came in the form of two sub-standard numbers: the lyrically monotonous, hard rock blasting "Sit & Wonder and embarrassing set-closer "Love Is Noise, whose disco rock vibe killed the blissfully nostalgic one "Bittersweet Symphony left us with in the encore. A bittersweet night, indeed.