Back in March 2011, Richard Ashcroft performed a solo set at a very non-traditional venue, the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts in Boston’s South End. Few who attended the show, in a remodeled church off Tremont Street, had any idea what to expect, and even fewer realized the whole thing was being recorded for Jim Beam’s “Live Music Series.”
As legend has it, the liquor company bought up half the tickets to the show and hardly used any, leaving those in the room virtually one-on-one with the Verve frontman. Though Ashcroft’s United Nations Of Sound would be released in the United States the day prior to the show, much of his stripped-down acoustic set focused on his Verve hits: “History,” “Sonnet,” “Space And Time,” set closer “Bittersweet Symphony.”
Here’s what I wrote after the show for the Boston Phoenix: “Ashcroft was certainly alone up there on the remodeled church’s towering stage, but the campfire vibe and intimacy provided by the Villa, his acoustic guitar, and a seasoned crowd of Verve supporters, made the show feel like some sort of exclusive party for those who’ve stuck with Mad Richard during a somewhat turbulent solo career.”
For the years since it passed, the performance was something of a legend to my circle of friends. We teared up a few times. We sang along, chanted, and swayed arm-in-arm with each other, a bunch of Anglophile Americans calling each other “mate” and thinking nothing of it. We left in cold silence, amazed by what we had witnessed.
A few minutes ago, and kind of out of nowhere, Vanyaland managing editor Michael Christopher passed along a video link to nearly the full show, which I hadn’t seen before. This clip certainly isn’t “news,” per se, but it might be for those who were there and still occasionally think of this night.