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Old 03-26-2006, 12:24 PM   #1
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Richard Ashcroft live, 3/25/6

Richard Ashcroft, Continental Airlines Arena, aka The Meadowlands
25 March 2006

When people discuss the similarities between Coldplay and U2, they likely invoke the epic, skin tingling, huge and hallowed guitar sounds or the crowd-pleasing, charismatic lead singers. But another thing these bands share is the commitment to choosing superior opening acts. With the price of concert tickets a serious investment even for the privileged, getting your money’s worth at the gig is important, and a billing with some serious sonic depth is more than desirable.

On the Twisted Logic Tour (oddly named for a song that never appears in the set), Coldplay has chosen some great acts like Goldfrapp, Rilo Kiley, Fiona Apple, the previously obscure psychedelic blues of Black Mountain last summer, and now, much to my pleasure, the vigorous former Verve frontman, the soulful and sensational Richard Ashcroft.

Ashcroft took the stage and precisely 8pm and began what would be his habit for the entire night: talking before every song. This took his 8-song set to the 50 minute limit. Knowing how long many rock songs are, we could do the math. He loves to talk, and most of it was genius and generously spiced with the F-word. He also had the courtesy of properly introducing each song, which I thought excellent, making it easier for me to compile a setlist and allowing me to listen to most of the tracks while I pen this review. As I go, I will offer some quoted (or more likely paraphrased) samples of his blessed banter.

“Springsteen sold this place out for 15 nights. Fuck me.” “Here we go again” seems an appropriate refrain for an opening song, and the title track to the new record “Keys to the World” pulled in the few thousand fans smart enough to get to their seats on time.

“Most British musicians owe a huge debt to black music going all the way back to the church” introduced the old-school anthem “Music is Power.” He mentioned Curtis Mayfield (the musical saint who brought us so much funky gospel with the Impressions and the classic “People Get Ready”) and, interestingly, Jay Z. The significance of the latter was revealed when Chris Martin later told us that Jay Z was at the show (as was Michael Stipe—too bad he didn’t do his Katrina relief collaboration with Coldplay).

When Richard sings this delicious hymn to the medium that’s saved our sanity so many times, he asks, “Are you invited/to the party of life,” and reminds, “in these wild wild wild days you live in/yeah i know sometimes we all wanna give in,” and finally, commands, “don't give up/oh no, alright/let the melody flow/all night all night.” Of course, at that moment, I wouldn’t have minded if Ashcroft were the headliner and would have welcomed him all night, indeed.

But sadly, the 50 minutes flowed too quickly through amazing versions of pieces like “Break the Night with Color” and the moving ballad “Words Just Get in the Way” to his remark that he regretted sharing the last name of a particular “dickhead in your country.” While claiming “I’m not bitter,” he did complain that radio had forgotten him since the Verve, so he unhooked the hit to remind us all. “Bittersweet Symphony” had me dancing in the aisles until the ushers politely urged me back to my seat; reluctantly, I slowly obliged, but not without sharing several smiles with other fans as pleased with this last song of the opening set as I was. I’m glad the only road I’ve ever been down took me to this show.

Setlist:
Keys to the World
The Drugs Don’t Work
Music is Power
Science of Silence
Break the Night with Color
Lucky Man
Words Just Get in the Way
Bittersweet Symphony
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Old 03-26-2006, 01:45 PM   #2
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Thank you for this review, Anu! I was seriously debating going to this concert at the Nassau Coliseum tonight not so much to see Coldplay, but to see Richard Ashcroft. I think he has a rare charisma and I know I would have enjoyed his set very much.

I was very fortunate to see him play a 3-song acoustic set before Oasis at the then-Paramount theater in Manhattan in 1996. He was terrific, but the frat boys in back of us wouldn't stop talking the entire time.

If only for inspiring the song "Cast No Shadow" by Oasis (which he did), Richard has a place in rock history.
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Old 03-26-2006, 02:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Diane L
Thank you for this review, Anu! I was seriously debating going to this concert at the Nassau Coliseum tonight not so much to see Coldplay, but to see Richard Ashcroft. I think he has a rare charisma and I know I would have enjoyed his set very much.

I was very fortunate to see him play a 3-song acoustic set before Oasis at the then-Paramount theater in Manhattan in 1996. He was terrific, but the frat boys in back of us wouldn't stop talking the entire time.

If only for inspiring the song "Cast No Shadow" by Oasis (which he did), Richard has a place in rock history.
Still tickets to be had tonight and tomorrow on TM, pairs and singles - floors even!

He was great last night, one of the few shows I've gone to where I thought I got a true double bill.
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Old 03-26-2006, 04:21 PM   #4
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i think i'm looking forward to seeing richard ashcroft more than i am coldplay in chicago this week...
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Old 03-26-2006, 10:51 PM   #5
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hmm

i'd really like to see him play... i'd definitely get tickets to see him as opposed to coldplay.
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Old 03-27-2006, 09:09 AM   #6
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i love him and he was sooooo good when i saw him on the 22nd. i waited 9 long years to see him live.
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