Richard Ashcroft and co stroll on stage and launch into the muscular "A New Decade", from their second album, A Northern Soul. Picking up an acoustic guitar, Ashcroft dedicates the second song to his father, and suddenly we are in familiar territory: "Sonnet", from the bands career-defining third album, Urban Hymns. Ashcroft is soon enveloped in a huge sound as Nick McCabe's FX-laden guitar and Peter Salisbury's relentless drums kick in.
It's five songs in before they get to the new album in "I See Houses", a chilled contemplation on the album that they power up live, and two songs later they do the new collection's opener, "Sit and Wonder". It's an energetic, psychedelic shuffle that stays in F sharp minor far too long.
An apparently morose Ashcroft doesn't do much talking, and despite bouts of air-maraca-playing, he seems less than happy. But he does provoke cheers with, "this is the big one, this is 'Lucky Man'". This is also what the crowd have come for, and it ends with him holding his acoustic guitar aloft in the teeming rain.
They encore with"The Drugs Don't Work", "Bitter Sweet Symphony", and the new single, the epic "Love is Noise", an insistent, driving number during which Ashcroft walks off stage leaving the rest of the band to wrap up.
The Verve will never match the peaks of Urban Hymns, but there are some good songs on the new album, that deserve a more sensitive live reading. They get three stars; the fourth is earned by the venue.