The Verve – Bittersweet Memories

The Verve – Bittersweet Memories

The Verve were an English rock band formed in 1989 in Wigan who endured name and line-up changes, breakups, health problems, drug abuse and various lawsuits. They were referred to as “one of the tightest knit, yet ultimately volatile bands in history“.

Bitter Sweet Symphony” was the lead track on their third album, Urban Hymns. It was released on 16 June 1997 by Hut Recordings as the first single from the album, reaching number two on the UK Singles Chart.


In the Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time, 2009 (an online music poll conducted by the Australian radio station Triple J) the track was voted the 14th best song of all time. Rolling Stone ranked “Bitter Sweet Symphony” as the 392nd best song of all time. In May 2007, NME magazine placed “Bitter Sweet Symphony” at number 18 in its list of the “50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever”.

Although the song’s lyrics were written by Verve vocalist Richard Ashcroft, it has been credited to Keith Richards and Mick Jagger after charges by the original copyright owners that the song was plagiarized from the Andrew Oldham Orchestra recording of The Rolling Stones’ 1965 song “The Last Time.”


Andrew Oldham took over as the manager for the Rolling Stones on April 29, 1963.

Despite having original lyrics, the music of “Bitter Sweet Symphony” is partially based on the Oldham track, which led to a lawsuit with Abkco Records, Allen Klein’s company that owns the rights to the Rolling Stones material of the 1960s.

Originally, The Verve had negotiated a licence to use a sample from the Oldham recording, but it was successfully argued that the Verve had used “too much” of the sample. The matter was eventually settled, with copyright of the song reverting to Abkco and songwriting credits to Jagger and Richards ( despite the fact neither of them wrote one single word of the song.)

“We were told it was going to be a 50/50 split, and then they saw how well the record was doing,” says band member Simon Jones. “They rung up and said, ‘We want 100 percent or take it out of the shops, you don’t have much choice.'”


Ashcroft commented, “This is the best song Jagger and Richards have written in 20 years”, noting it was their biggest UK hit since “Brown Sugar”.

Ashcroft dedicated the song to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards during a gig at the Sage Gateshead in Gateshead. After several audience members booed, Ashcroft exclaimed, “Don’t boo, man. As long as I can play this song I’m happy to pay a few of those guys’ bills.”


This now timeless classic was hugely successful and opened doors for the band, yet in itself didn’t earn them a penny.

That’s bittersweet

In a Cash For Questions interview with Q magazine published in January 1999, Keith Richards was asked if he thought it was harsh taking all The Verve’s royalties from “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” to which he replied, …. “I’m out of whack here, this is serious lawyer shit. If The Verve can write a better song, they can keep the money.”

A Bitter Sweet Story

This Maybe The Last Time – The Staple Singers

A gospel song from 1955 by The Staple Singers. It’s a traditional song recorded by many artists with no-one owning the rights to it.

However, when the Stones recorded it in 1965, many Gospel fans felt The Stones ripped it off as it was based on their version of the song, and the Staple Singers never received any royalties.

Because The Stones were a highly successful band, reworking many songs by black artists into hits, it was felt The Staple Singers should have been compensated.


The Last Time – The Rolling Stones

Although this song is credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, it is heavily based on a traditional gospel song first recorded by the Staple Singers.

The Stones changed the meaning of the song; the Staple Singers version was more uplifting and spiritual. It was recorded in Los Angeles in 1965 with the help of Phil Spector and reached No.1 in the Uk and No.9 in the US.


The Last Time – Andrew Loog Oldham

The Andrew Oldham Orchestra was a musical side project in the mid 1960s created by Andrew Loog Oldham, the original manager and record producer of The Rolling Stones. There was no actual orchestra per se. The name was applied to recordings made by Oldham using a multitude of session musicians, including members of the Rolling Stones.

Four albums were released under the Orchestra name: East Meets West, 16 Hip Hits, Lionel Bart’s Maggie May and Rolling Stones Songbook.

On 3 June 1966, The Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra released a vinyl LP entitled The Rolling Stones Songbook which featured 10 orchestral versions of The Stones songs, including The Last Time

About the The Bittersweet Symphony music video

The music video (directed by Walter A. Stern) focuses on Ashcroft lip-synching the song while walking down a busy London pavement, refusing to change his stride or direction throughout (oblivious to what is going on around him).

He repeatedly bumps into passers-by (causing one young woman to lose balance and fall), narrowly avoids being hit by a car, and jumps on top of the bonnet of another vehicle stopped in his path (the driver gets out of her car and proceeds to pursue and shout at him, while he continues unflinchingly).

At the end of the video, the rest of The Verve join Ashcroft, and the final shot sees them walking down the street into the distance. This then leads into the beginning of the video for “The Drugs Don’t Work”

Ashcroft starts walking from the southeast corner of the intersection of Hoxton and Falkirk Streets in Hoxton, north London, subsequently proceeding north along the east side of Hoxton Street. The “pavement journey” format was inspired by the music video for the Massive Attack song “Unfinished Sympathy”, in which Shara Nelson sings while walking through a Los Angeles neighbourhood.

Bitter Sweet Symphony Lyrics

Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony this life
Trying to make ends meet, you’re a slave to the money then you die
I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah

No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change,
but I’m here in my mold , I am here in my mold
But I’m a million different people from one day to the next
I can’t change my mold, no, no, no, no, no

Well, I’ve never prayed,
But tonight I’m on my knees, yeah
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind , I feel free now
But the airwaves are clean and there’s nobody singing to me now

No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change,
but I’m here in my mold , I am here with my mold
And I’m a million different people from one day to the next
I can’t change my mold, no, no, no, no, no

(Well have you ever been down?)
(I can’t change, I can’t change…)

‘Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony this life
Trying to make ends meet, trying to find some money then you die
I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah

You know I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change,
but I’m here in my mold, I am here in my mold
And I’m a million different people from one day to the next
I can’t change my mold, no,no,no,no,no
I can’t change my mold, no,no,no,no,no
I can’t change my mold, no,no,no,no,no

I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down
I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down
Been down
Ever been down
Ever been down
Ever been down
Ever been down
That you’ve ever been down
That you’ve ever been down

About The Verve

The Verve were an English rock band formed in 1989 in Wigan by lead vocalist Richard Ashcroft, guitarist Nick McCabe, bassist Simon Jones, and drummer Peter Salisbury. Guitarist and keyboardist Simon Tong later became a member.

Before they started the Verve, Richard Ashcroft, Simon Jones, Nick McCabe and Peter Salisbury used to gather in an old car high above the hillsides around Wigan, gazing down over the town and wondering how they could avoid the anonymity that destiny seemed to be presenting them with.

1989 : Seeing the Stone Roses play was the catalyst for the band’s centrifugal belief that apparently ordinary northern young men could reach a whole new potential through music if they have enough Herculean self-belief.

1990  : Aged between 18 and 20, Verve form at college in Upholland in Wigan, Lancashire .

When the Virgin Records talent scout who discovered the band first encountered them playing in a Wigan pub he glimpsed a band who were treating a tiny room as if it were Wembley stadium and treating music as if it were a personal crusade.

1990 Aug : The Honeysuckle pub, Wigan, plays host to Verve’s first gig, at a friend’s birthday party. Wayne Griggs (alias Music Of The Spheres) DJs – and spins records at every Verve gig since

1991 Mar : “Wigan’s not big enough for the both of us.” say Verve as local rivalry prompts more regional publicity over a double-bill with Wigan band, the Tansads, at the town’s Mill At The Pier. Verve are adamant they aren’t so much supporting as playing the gig “to show Wigan who is boss”. In an article under the banner “Band War Breaks Out”, Verve state their influences as Funkadelic and, somewhat bizarrely, Aphrodite’s Child

1991  July : Verve’s very first performance in London (at the Fulham King’s Head) prompts a recording contract with Virgin Records’ offshoot, Hut Records, then home to the Smashing Pumpkins.

The band were described as “the liquid essence of rock ‘n’ roll”, and easily met everyone’s initial expectations when their first three singles in 1992 – All In The Mind, She’s A Superstar, and Gravity Grave – all reached the top of the Independent Charts.

The songs, the sleeves, and even the B-sides were something to behold. Together they demonstrated a vision that was absent from many of their peers. But it was a vision that wouldn’t bend for anyone.

1991 Nov : A show at London’s perennial showcase arena, the Camden Falcon, attracts an enthusiastic NME review: “Verve are gigantic, an accident in a chemical factory. Their mushroom cloud of sound impacts into the swaying mass, like Cod falling down an escalator.”

1992 : Jan : Melody Maker are equally ecstatic after a gig at the Tufnell Park Dome: “They entertain people away from their immediate memories. Richard, prince of thieves, steals our attention from right under the noses of jaded cynicism.”

1992  Jan : Richard’s intense, theatrical behaviour at London’s Borderline is caught by Select: “During a particularly cathartic instrumental break, the singer hangs off the ceiling by one arm and punches the air with the other, screaming into nothing as his mike’s on the floor. He’s deperately passionate, ripping at his hair, his shirt, in time with the crises presented in his lyrics.”

1992 Feb : A prestigious support slot with the Smashing Pumpkins (and the Catherine Wheel) at London’s Astoria is blighted by problems. Verve claim they have to play a curtailed, soundcheck4ess set after the venue has barely opened. Ashcroft responds by throwing the mike around and smashing a vodka bottle before the promoter pulls the plug and the band storm off stage defiantly: “They might have turned us off but we’ve turned you on.”

1992 Feb : Having sworn never to play second fiddle again (and scrapped plans for dates with the Catherine Wheel), Verve promptly cancel an announced headline tour in order to support shoe-gazing kings Ride, beginning in Ride’s home town, Oxford.

Verve attract descriptions like “searing soundscapes” and “heavy-duty psychedelics”.

1992 Mar : Garlanded with heady hyperbole, Verve’s first front cover in the music press (Melody Maker) pitches them as “the next big thing”. “I want us to be the only gig that people would dream of going to,” says Richard, stressing an empathy with the Stone Roses and Primal Scream.

1992 Mar : “All In The Mind”, Verve’s impressive debut single, adds a Doors swagger, the dissonant funk of Can and touches of U2 and Echo & the Bunnymen to the prevalent, multi-layered guitars of their indie contemporaries.

It also begins a longterm relationship with sleeve designer Brian Cannon (Microdot), whose often tinted, often surreal, often al fresco collages later adorn Oasis’s covers.

Oasis and The Verve have a strong bond of friendship and respect. The bands first met when Noel Gallagher went to see The Verve playing. He gave Ashcroft a demo tape with Live Forever on it – and he was hooked.

Shortly afterwards, they asked Oasis to open for them on their UK tour. Three years later, the favour was returned when the Gallaghers asked The Verve to support them at their Earl’s Court gigs.

1992 Jun  : Verve’s second single, “She’s A Superstar”, is backed by the similarly swirling epic, “Feel”, all gentle-but-scary ambience and trippy guitar effects. Two tracks, eighteen minutes;

1992 July : A fully-blown tour includes a show at the Clapham Grand, which yields live recordings of “Man Called Sun” and “Gravity Grave”. Melody Maker describe Verve as “satanic majesty incarnate, a glorious spectacle”.

1992  Oct : The video for the “Gravity Grave” EP features the band’s 70s Dodge Charger, though the car later disappears under mysterious circumstances. “Atmospheric and soporific, it almost floats off the turntable, another perilous flirtation with dissolution,” says one reviewer – of the record, that is.

1992 Oct : The ‘Gravity Grave’ tour begins with a homecoming gig at Wigan’s Mill At The Pier, prompting more hyperbole: ‘Verve soar and that guitar roars by like a jet plane driven by stewed drum motors. On the brink of a yawning crevice of druggy self-indulgence, Verve haul ass.”

1992 Oct : Verve’s induction into the U.S. begins on the back of a flatbed truck in Times Square, NYC, as part of the CMJ Music Marathon.

1992 Nov : Verve accept an unlikely role supporting American blues rockers the Black Crowes on tour.

1992 Dec : The CD-only ‘Verve EP” acts as a stop-gap retrospective, aimed at American audiences and described by the NME as “no easy ride but a hell of an adventure, a risk well worth taking”.

1993 Mar : Like the Charlatans before them, Verve consent to an official bootleg album. Recorded live in New York and London in 1992, ‘Voyager 1″ is a collector’s dream: it’s released on blue vinyl and limited to 1,000 copies, though 300 are ruined in transit between the U.K. and U.S.

1993 May : Equal parts wistful and strungout and decorated with accordion, Verve’s next single, “Blue”, is their first with Stone Roses producer John Leckie. Two videos are made: an English version in Islington and an American variant filmed in Dublin.

1993 Jun : “Star Sail” is chosen for the soundtrack to Sliver, a Hollywood movie starring Sharon Stone.

1993 Jun : Verve play the NME stage at Glastonbury with hired equipment, after thieves stole four guitars from their van in Clapham on the 16th. The show spawns a live flexidisc, “Make It ’till Monday”, which is given out on their next British tour

1993 Jun : Verve’s debut album, “A Storm In Heaven”, is finally unveiled, with evocative titles like “Beautiful Mind”, “Virtual World”, “Butterfly” – and “Slide Away”, a title later shared by Oasis.

“Eight of the songs were jams when we went into the studio but time was taken to make it special,” explains Ashcroft. Recorded in Cornwall, the LB’s dense wall of guitars is pleasantly diluted on two tracks by brass trio the Kick Horns.

It was then they got a visit from an American jazz label also called Verve, which insisted they change their name, and so the band became The Verve

1993 July : The Verve take a brief hop with the toruing rock festival Lollapalooza

1993 Aug & Sept : The gigs continue around Europe with the Addams Family of grunge, the Smashing Pumpkins. “Verve’s amorphous flotation rock has transformed into a huge, powerful, horizon-stretching and genuinely liberating polyphony,” raves the NME. “We’ve never played Europe before,” says Richard. “Just waking up each morning in a different city is mind-blowing.”

1993 Nov : Numerous American dates, supported by Acetone. New York Newsday describe Verve’s singer as “a gaunt, Jaggeresque figure with a strong, menacing voice, the charismatic pop star with presence … other blurring effects stretch and contract the music into the liquid surrealism of a Salvador Dali paining.”

1993 Dec : Verve’s “Endless Life” is compiled on “Ambient 2: A Brief History Of Imaginary Landscapes”.

On a short British jaunt, Verve are joined by up-and-coming Manchester band, Oasis.

1994 Feb : Verve brave their first, albeit brief, headlining tour of Europe. Their Frankfurt concert on 25th is recorded for German TV three months later, including two unreleased songs, “Black & Blue” and “Mover

1994 May :  “No Come Down” is a CD-only collection of B-sides and out-takes aimed at the U.S. market. It features beguiling acoustic variations on “Make It ‘ml Monday” and “Butterfly”. “Oceanic, rolling layers of sound pull you in,” writes one fan. “The acoustic ‘Butterfly’ is played with ajug band’s sense of rhythm and an orchestra’s capacity for grandeur. Hazy, phased psychedelic rock at its finest.”

1994 Jun :  a lengthy Lollapalooza stretch through July and August, though Verve play many dates outside the main stadium – but still “steal the shows”

1994 July :  After the Lollapalooza Sandstone Amphitheater show, Bonner Springs, Pete Salisbury is arrested following the trashing of a room in the West Inn Crown Center Hotel, Kansas City- aleegedly causing $450 worth of damage.

Richard, meanwhile, has a funny turn. He’d collapsed from dehydration after a mammoth bout of drinking. “Did you see Verve? You better go see them quick, before they all die,” jokes the Breeders’ Kim Deal.

1994 Aug : Verve return to home turf at London’s Clapham Grand. “The fluid, freefalling guitar and tender bass produce vast, open-air soundscapes that could accompany a parachutist or handglider,” reckon Melody Maker.

1994 Aug : After playing the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden, Verve and Oasis get into trouble with the law after wrecking a hotel bar, and both make the Swedish national press front pages.

“Everyone was really drunk,” admits a Verve spokesperson. “When they got back to the hotel, the bar was open. Unfortunately, the management tried to close it and an argument ensued. Some bottles were purloined…”

1994  Aug : Melody Maker liken Richard Ashcroft’s performance at Reading Festival to a preying mantis high on Anadin.

1994 Nov :  the stage was set for the second album. What followed was, to quote Richard, “Four intense, mad months. Really insane. In great ways and terrible ways. In ways that only good music and bad drugs and mixed emotions can make.”

Nick McCabe described the first three weeks of the albums recording sessions (which have become semi-famous for the band’s enormous intake of ecstasy) to be the happiest of his life.

1995 Apr : The Verve support Oasis during their famous show at Southend’s Cliffs Pavilion with a revamped set which trades their former ethereal elegance for riffing rock’n’roll arrogance

1995  Apr : The two bands share a bill again, this time in France. “Rock’n’roll is alive in Paris!”, screams Ashcroft. Two hours later, bad karma strikes when guitarist Nick McCabe is punched downstairs by a security official and breaks a precious finger, scuppering a British tour, which is postponed and rearranged.

1995 May : The band break the Top 40 with a shout-it-from-the-rooftops anthem, “This Is Music”.

This Is Music – is the Verve at their most high octane and ferocious as the song manages to tackle both the class system and the band’s belief in the power of guitars and drums into four pulverising minutes. Critics are unanimous: the Verve are going to be massive.

1995 Jun :  Glastonbury Festival’s  Nick’s amp blows up and Richard has to improvise on tambourine.

1995  July : The title of their second album, “A Northern Soul”, pays homage both to their roots and to that cult of rare 60s soul. Recorded at Loco Studios in Wales – with final touches and an orchestra at Abbey Road- the LP is produced by Owen Morris, who has also worked with Oasis. It reaches No.13.

“We needed a producer who would be extreme”, said Richard, “Owen brought his personality to the record. He’s the only person I know who can smash a thirty foot window in the studio and then do his job. He admitted he nearly had a nervous breakdown, and I think that’s a commendable performance.”

A Northern Soul has enduring qualities – at once robust and fragile, dense, juicy, melodic, abrasive and freeform – which make it certain to be remembered as one of the defining moments of nineties music.

1995 July : The Verve support Oasis at Irvine Beach.

1995 July : The Phoenix Festival, Stratford Upon-Avon, finds the band second-on-the-bill to Spiritualized on the second stage.

1995  July : The lengthy ‘Conquering America’ tour is~launched in San Francisco.

1995 Aug :  The Verve’s performance at Glasgow’s T In The Park Festival is their last for two years.

1995  Sep : Richard Ashcroft announces the Verve are no more (“It no longer felt right”, was his only explanation).

1995  Sep :  The Verve bow out with the poignantly-titled “History”, and are rewarded with the biggest hit of their career to date. It was recorded at Abbey Road’s famous Studio 2 (home to all the Beatles’ recordings), with strings co-arranged by 60s pop-psych veteran Wil Malone (ex-Orange Bicycle).

Then, just as they were gaining commercial and critical recognition, they split up. The cover of History was apt: an old cinema with the words “All farewells should be sudden” over the doors.

The cover of 1995 single History spelled out, the Verve’s manifesto is “Life is not a rehearsal.”

Richard Ashcroft put the split down to his falling out with guitarist Nick McCabe. Ashcroft said at the time: “There’s such a great atmosphere now amongst the band – I was in the studio at three in the morning the other night and we were all rocking ’cause we were creating great music and that’s all we’ve ever wanted.”

In the time they were away, the extraordinary ambition of A Northern Soul was properly assimilated, with due recognition accorded to The Verve’s towering achievement. The band grew in stature, becoming a substantial influence and consequently being used as a reference point by journalists and other bands

1995 Nov : The band minus McCabe regroup with the idea of working under a new name, with the help of new guitarist, old school friend Simon Tong. Demos are made of several new songs (many which are later re-recorded for the next Verve LP).

1997 Feb : Ashcroft decided to ask McCabe to return, claiming “I got to the point where nothing other than The Verve would do for me”. McCabe obliged and with the original lineup back together (Tong remained on guitar alongside McCabe).

After months of work in Metropolis and Olympic studios in London, The Verve created a groundbreaking chart-destroyer, Urban Hymns, which was not only hailed as the best album of 1997, but one which set the standard for the rest of the nineties.

Produced and mixed by the band and Chris Potter, with initial help from Youth, the record saw The Verve achieve the success which had always been within their reach.

1997 Jun : Their first single after reforming, Bitter Sweet Symphony, entered the UK chart at number two and stayed in the chart for three months. It became one of the anthems of the year, and became almost inescapable after it was used in a car commercial on TV

1997 July : A sell out tour to coincide with the release was postponed due to illness and rescheduled for August 1997.

1997 Aug : the band began playing their first gigs in two years, beginning the Urban Hymns Tour.

The shows were unforgettable – a true release of energy and passion which ended in a magnificent headlining appearance at the Reading festival

1997 Sep :  “The Drugs Don’t Work” gave the band their first UK #1 single.

1997 Sep : The album immediately reached #1 on the charts later that month, knocking off Oasis’ highly anticipated album Be Here Now in the process.

The band saw an overwhelming increase in popularity overseas, and “Bitter Sweet Symphony” reached #12 on the U.S. charts, the band’s highest ever American position. The album reached the US Top 30, going platinum in the process.

1997 Nov :  the band released a third single “Lucky Man” in the UK which reached #7. The band’s singles were given extensive airplay on US rock stations

1998 Mar : Ashcroft appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

Then, as the band was on a successful tour to promote the album, Jones collapsed on stage. This was the first of many problems to come for the band in the next months.

1998 May : the band played a homecoming concert in front of 33,000 fans in the grounds of Haigh Hall & Country Park, Aspull, supported by Beck and John Martyn.


1998 Jun : Some US tour concerts were cancelled as Ashcroft and Simon Jones fell ill. The tour was riddled with problems as venues were downsized and the support act Massive Attack dropped out.

1998 Jun : The band then played gigs in mainland Europe. However, a post-show bust-up at Düsseldorf-Philipshalle left McCabe with a broken hand and Ashcroft with a sore jaw.



1998 July : Nick McCabe pulled out of the band’s summer festival appearances, citing stress and exhaustion. Veteran pedal guitarist BJ Cole took his place. McCabe’s departure was meant to be a temporary measure, but he never returned.

1998 July : The band then returned to England for two headline performances at the V Festivals, which received poor reviews, with NME stating “where songs used to spiral upwards and outwards, they now simply fizzle tamely”

Now Ashcroft and Pete Salisbury are working on an album together, while the rest of the band are working on their own projects.

Although the volatile relationship between Richard Ashcroft and Nick McCabe made the band’s music unforgettable for millions, it also seems it has been responsible for the group’s second demise.

Ashcroft had been adamant that The Verve would not reform, once remarking: “You’re more likely to get all four Beatles on stage”.

1998 : In early 1998, The Verve’s management issued a statement saying that the band would not have consented to the Nike commercial if they had retained publishing rights to their song in the first place, according to Ambrosia Healy, the band publicist.

“Though it is not The Verve’s policy to have their music used in commercial advertising, a portion of ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ has been approved for use in a Nike television ad that is currently appearing in the U.S. for a limited run. This would not have happened had The Verve not lost the publishing copyright (and therefore artistic control) of ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ to Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Allen Klein/Abko Music,” the statement read

2005 Jul : Cold Play with Richard Ashcroft perform Bittersweet Symphony at Live8, London

2007 Jun : after Ashcroft learned that Salisbury was in contact with McCabe over a possible side project, Ashcroft contacted McCabe and Jones, making peace with them, and the band reformed. Tong was not asked to rejoin, so as to keep the internal issues that split the band up a decade ago to an absolute minimum.

Jones explained this decision by stating: “It would have been too hard, it’s hard enough for the four of us. If you bring more people to it, it’s harder to communicate and communication has always been our difficulty”.

2007 Jun :  the band’s reunion was announced by Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 1.

The band stated: “We are getting back together for the joy of music”, though they turned down a multi-album deal offer “because the “treadmill” of releasing albums and touring marked the beginning of the end for the band a decade ago”.

By now they are far less prone to wild adventures on psychedelic drugs, married and with moderately sensible haircuts, but they remain restless souls infatuated by making music that will lift them – and those listening – out of the everyday and into a form of transcendence through music.

2007 Nov : the band announced they would tour in November 2007, and release an album in 2008.

2007 Nov :  Tickets for their six-gig tour in early November 2007 sold out in less than 20 minutes.

2007 Nov : The tour began in Glasgow  and included 6 performances at the Carling Academy Glasgow, The Empress Ballroom and the London Roundhouse.

Since the 6-gig tour went extremely well in sales, the band booked a second, and bigger tour for December.

2007 Dec : They played at O2 arena, the SECC in Glasgow, the Odyssey in Belfast, the Nottingham Arena and Manchester Central. Each show from the first and second part of the tour were sold out immediately.

2008 : The band continued touring in 2008.

They played at most of the biggest summer festivals and a few headline shows all over North America, Europe, Japan and the UK between April and August.

Including shows at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, also at the Madison Square Garden Theater, and the Pinkpop festival, T in the Park, the V Festival, Oxegen Festival, Rock Werchter, Rock am Ring and Rock im Park and The Eden Project Sessions.

2008 Jun : The band’s new single, “Love Is Noise”, was premiered by Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1 on 23 June.

2008 Jun : They performed at the coveted Sunday night slot on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury on 29 June, closing the show with the new song.

2008 Jun : The Verve released a free download of a non-album track, “Mover”, on 30 June.

The song had been performed by the band in 1994, but had never seen a proper recording until the reunion. The track was available for download from their official website for one week only.

2008 Aug : The band announced the new album’s title: Forth, which was released in the UK on 25 August and the following day in North America.

The album reached #1 on the UK Albums Chart on 31 August.

2008 Aug : The lead single “Love Is Noise” was released in the UK on 3 August digitally and one week later (11 August) on its physical form, peaking at #4 in the UK.

2009 Aug :  The Guardian speculated that The Verve have broken up for a third time, with Jones and McCabe no longer speaking to Ashcroft as they felt he was using the reunion as a vehicle to get his solo career on track.

Being asked about the supposed split, Ashcroft told Daily Telegraph “I can confirm we did what we set out to do […] Right now there are no plans to be doing anything in the near future.”

2010 July : Ashcroft confirmed that the band “is over for good”, though some weeks later did not rule out another Verve reunion


Band Members

The Verve, from Wigan in Lancashire, were formed in 1990. The band’s line-up was originally Richard Ashcroft (vocals, guitar), Nick McCabe (guitar), Simon Jones (bass) and Peter Salisbury (drums). At the tail-end of 1995, Simon Tong, an old school friend joined the band to play guitar and keyboards.

Richard, Simon and Pete knew each other from Upholland High School and recruited Nick from Winstanley College.

Early gigs led writers to describe them as “Gigantic” and “Already immortal” before they had released a record. Those that saw them saw something potentially disconcerting, something inspiring.

In a music scene that was waiting for anything to happen, down came Verve. People began to respond

Richard Ashcroft

Vocals, acoustic guitar
Born September 11, 1971; Wigan, England
Graduate from Winstanley College, Wigan
Left The Verve in 1999 to pursue a solo career
Returned to The Verve in 2007
Active Project: RPA & the United Nations of Sound

Nick McCabe

Lead Guitars
Graduate from Winstanley College, Wigan
Born July 14, 1971; St. Helens, England
Left The Verve in 1998, returned 2007
Current project: The Black Ships


Peter Salisbury

Born September 24, 1971; Wigan, England
Left The Verve in 1999 and continued with Richard Ashcroft
Returned to The Verve in 2007
Featured on Richard Ashcroft’s solo albums


Simon Jones

Bass Guitar
Born May 29, 1972; Wigan, England
Left The Verve in 1999, returned in 2007
Past Projects: The Shining with former Verve member, Simon Tong
Current project: The Black Ships


Simon Tong

Guitars, Keyboards
Born in July 9, 1972; Wigan, England
Joined The Verve in late 1995, left The Verve








Individually, the Verve are all highly-accomplished players.

Singer Richard Ashcroft has been called “the greatest singer in the world” by no less a peer than Coldplay’s Chris Martin.

Liverpool-born Simon Jones’s dub-informed bass takes the Verve’s music far beyond rock and into space and dub;

Peter Salisbury plays drums more like a jazz great than a conventional rock drummer.

And when the tag “guitarist of his generation” is thrown about it often lands at the feet of the hugely adventurous, psychedelic, exploratory Nick McCabe.

However, when they are together a chemistry takes hold that transcends the four people onstage to blast the Verve somewhere else entirely and this chemistry and spontaneity has survived an absence of almost a decade.

Not a band who could ever be accused of faking, the Verve live experience can run anything from cutting sets short after two songs (as they were known to do in their early days) if the feeling isn’t there, to playing 45 minute jams of songs if they felt like it or even conversely walking away from the band entirely when things haven’t been right.

However when they are together and on form, few if anyone can touch them. Something happens when the Verve are together that none of them experience when they are apart.

When they take the stage, literally anything can happen.

Their unpredictably fantastic voyage has been a similarly rollercoastering very bumpy ride. Along the way, there have been trashed hotel rooms, broken relationships, fallouts, rumpuses, mental illness, tales of mind-boggling psychedelic drug abuse, hospital stays and even a performance with a drip feed hanging from a Verve musician’s arm.

All these extremes have helped shape the turbulence in the music and the Verve wouldn’t have it any differently.

Perhaps there was always something different about the Verve.

Share your thoughts