Went to see The Verve tonight at the Belfast Odyssey Arena. I'm not a fan, but they have a handful of OK songs and a couple of really good ones and aren't actually awful or anything.
On record, that is. Turns out, live, they are actually awful. To an extent greater than seems possible.
Unlike most bands who've got to the arena or stadium stage — U2, Snow Patrol, even the dross that is REM — they haven't figured out how to alter their sound to fit a bloody great room with oodles of echo. The result is mud. Each chord just bleeds all over the next one, creating a morass of indistiguishable noise. They sound like a second-rate pub band doing Verve covers. In a tunnel.
As for Richard Ashcroft... whatever it is that Bono is good at, that Prince is good at, that Michael Hutchence was great at, Ashcroft is bad at. The ability to fill such a large space with your presence, to hold the audience rapt, to project... all of this he lacks in spades. He just stands there in shades, doing that weird squatting waddling thing that rock singers from Manchester insist on, droning on interminably. Every couple of songs, he shouts the name of the next song, preceded by "This is..." That's the full extent of his banter.
I never thought I could be so disappointed by a band I didn't even like in the first place. Most bands who've been around a few years, even if you don't like their music, are at least good at doing what they do. The Verve can't even play Verve songs without fucking them up.