Richard Ashcroft plays with an orchestra

Special London show features some of his biggest hits

Richard Ashcroft played a very special gig for BBC Radio 2 last night (January 11) – with a 40-piece orchestra augmenting his normal five-piece band.

Introduced by Jonathan Ross, who described him as “a man who from one angle looks like the most beautiful man in the world, from another very, very scary”, the ex-Verve frontman wowed the audience of 600 competition winners with an hour-and-a-half of Verve classics and solo material from both his new album ‘Keys To The World’ and his other two records.

Having not rehearsed fully with the string players, the singer was having to visibly signal to the conductor as to where the end of each song was.

There was also a rare live rendition of ‘Lonely Soul’, the track he recorded with UNKLE for their 1998 album ‘Psyence Fiction’, which saw the singer accompanied only by a DJ and the orchestra.

The singer also took time to set the record straight about his widely-reported “I feel like Jesus Christ” comment in NME, saying before ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’: “I’d just like to clear up all this Jesus business. I don’t think I’m Jesus Christ, what I was trying to say is that we should all be looking to him for inspiration in life – it just came out wrong. But you try answering questions when you’re having your picture taken for NME at six o’clock on a Monday morning, y’know?”

Richard Ashcroft played the following set:

‘Music Is Power’

‘History’

‘Words Just Get In The Way’

‘A Song For The Lovers’

‘The Drugs Don’t Work’

‘Velvet Morning’

‘Sweet Brother Malcolm’

‘Lonely Soul’

‘Paradise’

‘Why Do Lovers?’

‘Lucky Man’

‘Sonnet’

‘Break The Night With Colour’

‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’

The show can be heard on Radio 2 on Saturday January 21 at 8.30pm.

Richard Ashcroft now hits the road in support of his new album ‘Keys To The World’, released on January 23.

The sold-out dates are:

Glasgow ABC (January 20)

Gateshead The Sage (January 21)

Preston Guildhall (January 22)

London Electric Ballroom (January 24-26)