The Verve played Manchester Central on Thursday night and after a scrabble about on ebay I managed to get two tickets at half the cost of the original. Likewise with Ocean Colour Scene who played Manchester Academy on the Friday. The recently reformed Verve were in good form though a couple of songs got a bit of a butchering, The Drugs Don’t Work being one of them. Ashcroft seemed to just amble along into the beginning when it really is a ‘lights out, hush descends on audience’ moment. Instead he appeared to be tuning up then launched into the first verse. I know playing the same song for the rest of your touring life must be a bit of an annoyance but it still came across as a bit … odd. The new tune from the forthcoming album ended up in a crescendo of noise a-la Spiritualized Cop-Shoot-Cop or some such and doesn’t seem to be the commercial big hitter that the previous singles from Urban Hymns were.
OCS however were in a different league. Maybe it was the smaller and cosier size of the venue but decent, solid guitar rock doesn’t get much better than this. With three axes and (at times) an acoustic there was plenty of firepower to play about with. Simon Fowler has a cracking deep gravelly bluesy voice and although he appeared to be suffering from a nasty cough the performance was pretty much flawless. Great gig and by far the better of the two.