The Verve, Carling Academy, Glasgow

Third time around and still as good
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The Independent Culture

Even amid the hardcore following that The Verve gathered as one of the 90s most successful British bands, there could have been nervous hope that they might decide to back out of this reunion.

The chance to see them again proved irresistible but they risked spoiling one of the finest rock legacies of recent times.

From psychedelic obscurity with their debut album A Storm In Heaven to monumental strength of spirit on the classic A Northern Soul, tensions between their singer Richard Ashcroft and guitarist Nick McCabe meant they split up and widespread attention looked to be forever denied to them.

Yet, in 1997, with differences seemingly repaired, they returned with the more reflective Urban Hymns. The record was hugely successful – at least until Ashcroft and McCabe's fractured relationship drove them apart again in 1999, this time seemingly for good.

So now, despite eight years of stony silence between the pair, they're back for unlikely comeback number two. We held our breath. And the verdict is – don't worry. The Verve are still as beautifully, uniquely energising as ever.

Of course, we can forgive them a few opening-night nerves, given the circumstances. Ashcroft was perhaps a bit more taciturn, more humble than might be remembered, and he nodded along to his own groove rather than stalking the stage with the shamanic fury of old. McCabe, bassist Simon Jones and drummer Pete Salisbury, for their parts, looked relieved to have finished at the end of the main set, though overjoyed at the crowd's positive reaction to the classic "Bittersweet Symphony".

The highpoints of their set sounded as righteous as ever. The Verve were never content to be part of the indie-pop treadmill, and nor are they now.

"Space And Time", "The Drugs Don't Work", "Lucky Man" and "Man Called Sun", all demonstrated Ashcroft's knack for fragile simplicity.

Perhaps it was due to the lights, which malfunctioned when the sound desk was hit by a beer , but the planned six-song encore was reduced to only three. Yes, there may be many questioning the point of a Verve reunion. But none of them were in the room last night.

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