NOVEMBER 3

“So, we get into town—Washington, D.C.—tired from touring, and I pick up Washington City Paper and see this, this Christopher Porter writes that we don’t know how to rock ‘n’ roll,” spits “Mad” Richard Ashcroft, lead singer of the Verve. “Is he here? Is he here? Well, why don’t you come up here and show us how to rock ‘n’ roll, then? Come on! Come on and show us how to rock ‘n’ roll,” he screams, psychotically pounding the stagefront pillar of the old 9:30 Club as the band kicks into one of its epic jams. Needless to say, I leap onstage and knock out Ashcroft with a swift right to his bony little head. Then the band and I break into “Tutti Frutti,” and let me tell you, we rocked and we rolled. Actually, other than writing that Ashcroft has a Mick Jagger fixation, I said that the Verve, especially lead guitarist Nick McCabe, is incredible. But 1995’s tour was tough for Ashcroft; drugs had made him and his insanely great group just plain insane, and soon afterward the band derailed in a train wreck of comedowns and breakdowns. Two years later, the Verve has reformed and recorded Urban Hymns, a collection of songs that charts the band’s tumultuous journey. With Ashcroft now writing the majority of its tunes (mostly ballads and lighter rockers), the Verve doesn’t play up its strengths: McCabe’s sprawling, psychedelic guitarscapes and the band’s mastery of organic improvisation. But live, Ashcroft goes out of his gourd and McCabe is out of this world. Call out for “Tutti Frutti” at 7:30 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $12. (202) 393-0930. (Christopher Porter)