With the legendary songwriter Richard Ashcroft set to headline Highest Point Festival in Lancaster, we took a look at his best performances and ranked them in order of greatness.
Date published: 23rd Feb 2022
Regardless of your opinion on the Wigan rocker, Richard Ashcroft has had a massive cultural impact with his music. From the melancholy genius of The Drugs Don’t Work to the ethereal anthem Bittersweet Symphony to the transcendental A Song For The Lovers, he's created some of the most significant music of our time.
And since he’ll be headlining Lancaster festival, Highest Point, in May, we thought we’d gather some of his best live performances and rank them from great to unforgettable. Nothing gets you excited for a gig like getting a taste of what’s to come. So here are Richard Ashcroft's best live performances ranked.
5) Isle of Wight Festival 2019
As amazing as Ashcroft is, his band deserve a huge shout out. His whole band, especially his guitarist, really shine through here. The licks and solos are flawless throughout, as is the guitar tone, and the emotion that pours out as he plays adds colour to each song. He was the perfect choice for the job. But back to Ashcroft. Unlike many artists, he doesn’t shy away from playing the hits that everyone knows and loves. He gives an arms in the air, screaming along at the top of your lungs performance every time.
Find tickets for Isle of Wight Festival 2022 - here
4) Radio X acoustic session 2018
Interestingly, Ashcroft seems to be one of the few musicians whose voice improves as he ages. While others sound tired, strained and underqualified to sing their own songs, Ashcroft’s rugged voice simply casts the song in a more mature, almost reflective light which we can see here in this performance for Radio X. Acoustic sessions are either a waste of time or they let the songwriters soul shine through, creating an unmatched atmosphere. It’s clear to see Ashcroft achieves the latter with ease.
3) The Verve at Glastonbury 2008
What a performance. We mean, you can’t really go wrong when you have such an impressive discography under your belt, but still, this performance was magical. As usual, Ashcroft was energetic, passionate, and projecting the cocky Madchester attitude, and it worked beautifully. He may seem indifferent at times, but his passion is embodied in his voice. He meant every word. And, as the top comment on the video says, “not many bands have the balls to finish a headline set at Glastonbury with a song nobody has heard yet.” Iconic.
2) Science of Silence at Top Of The Pops 2003
Richard Ashcroft live. Science of Silence. A live string section. We don't need to say any more...
1) Neighbourhood Weekender 2019
Ashcroft’s headline performance at Neighbourhood Weekender is a perfect example of a cracking set. The crowd scream, sing the string sections, sing every single lyric with flares burning bright and their arms in the air. Beautiful. Slightly different from the original, this rendition features more guitars, infectious energy, deep passion and insane power in Ashcroft’s voice as he roars “have you ever been down?” Instantly, you wish you were at a Richard Ashcroft concert. It’s an electrifying experience (even just watching through a screen), and that’s why it’s our number one.
And for those who caught his speech at the beginning, yep, he dedicated the song to Mick (Jagger) and Keith (Richards). This was his first time playing the song with full rights to it after a long dispute with The Rolling Stones. “It was your f***ing tune anyway ”, he says to the crowd, “this is our f***ing song.” Poetry.
Find tickets for Neighbourhood Weekender 2022 - here
Honourable mention - Little Red Corvette cover for BBC Radio 2 2016
First of all, it’s bold of anyone to try to cover a Prince song, but Ashcroft nailed it by making it his own with his signature croon in this acoustic cover. Second of all, we thought you might be as curious as we were to see Ashcroft without sunglasses on.
Covers can be very hit and miss because many artists copy the song exactly, ruining the chances of improving or adding a unique spin to it. But Ashcroft did a great job, changing it to suit his style better, creating an almost country/bluesy sound, while honouring the song nicely. You can tell he loves the song and adores his craft.
Creating this list was a lot harder than it might seem. The fact is, Richard Ashcroft is fantastic both on and off the stage. He gives his performances his all, and his dedication and passion are infectious. It’s clear he was born for this.
If you want to catch Richard Ashcroft in concert in 2022, he’ll be gracing the main stage as the Thursday night headliner at Highest Point Festival in Lancaster. Tickets are flying away, so secure yours now to catch this living legend perform.
Find tickets for Richard Ashcroft at Highest Point Festival - here
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.
Read more news