Ashcroft Gets Symphonic At Album Premiere

Former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft introduced his upcoming album, "Keys to the World," Wednesday night with a performance at London's Mermaid Theater, supported both by his own band and by the BBC

Former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft introduced his upcoming album, "Keys to the World," Wednesday night with a performance at London's Mermaid Theater, supported both by his own band and by the BBC Concert Orchestra. As previously reported, the set is due Jan. 23 via Parlophone in the United Kingdom. No North American release date has been announced.

"Keys" is Ashcroft's first set since transferring within the EMI stable from Hut/Virgin. His first solo album, "Alone With Everybody," released in July 2000, was a U.K. No. 1 and included the top three singles hit "A Song for the Lovers." But he had more fleeting success with the 2002 follow-up "Human Conditions," despite its No. 3 debut on the album chart.

Wednesday's performance was recorded for national AC broadcaster BBC Radio 2, which will cybercast it Jan. 21. Ashcroft was in powerful form throughout, singing a selection of material from "Keys to the World," including the new single "Break the Night With Color," already a substantial U.K. airplay hit. Released earlier this week, it is set to debut in the top 5 on Sunday's new sales chart.

Ashcroft also performed many songs from both his and the Verve's catalog, such as the band's well-remembered hits "The Drugs Don't Work," "Lucky Man" and the 1997 U.K. chart-topper "Bitter Sweet Symphony." With particularly stellar accompaniment by the BBC Concert Orchestra, he also sang "Lonely Soul," his contribution to UNKLE's 1998 album, "Psyence Fiction."

As previously reported, the artist will support the second half of Coldplay's upcoming North American tour from March 20-April 6.