Now that The Verve Pipe’s breakthrough album “Villains” turned 20, the band could’ve easily played the platinum-plus project from start to back like so many other acts these days and cashed in exclusively on the nostalgia craze. Though the anniversary was mentioned and many key tracks populated the set list at the cozy City Winery, the evening also caught fans up to speed on “Overboard” (the group’s first proper batch in 13 years), plus front man Brian Vander Ark’s current acoustic collection “Planet Sunday Sessions Volume 1.”
For the encore, Vander Ark unplugged for solo covers of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Oasis’ “Wonderwall,” prior to The Verve Pipe’s return for its own monster “Medicate Myself” and a walloping version of The Police’s “Synchronicity II,” all of which added a few additional layers to these justified ‘90s survivors.
However, most of the alternative act’s 90-minute night was spent plugged in, split between a slew of post-grunge powerhouses (starting with the aggressive “Ominous Man”) and melodic pop pleasantries (most notably, the harmony-stacked “Never Let You Down”). Vander Ark also sprinkled in several stories, such as getting kicked out of his apartment by an ex-girlfriend and being forced to live in The Verve Pipe’s rehearsal space, but coming up with the hit “Cup Of Tea” as a result.
He also touched on penning the stripped down “Colorful” for “Rock Star,” which also featured the front man in his first major film role alongside the likes of Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston. The Verve Pipe also kept sharp unveiling the newer tune “Hit And Run,” an alt-pop oddity carried by a meaty bass line and eclectic sound effects, plus a harmonica-doused version of Supertramp’s “Take The Long Way Home.”
The chart-topping “The Freshman” naturally served up a standard sing-a-long (but never sounded stale), followed by fellow singles “Photograph” and “Happiness Is.” For the encore, Vander Ark unplugged for solo covers of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Oasis’ “Wonderwall,” prior to The Verve Pipe’s return for its own monster “Medicate Myself” and a walloping version of The Police’s “Synchronicity II,” all of which added a few additional layers to these justified ‘90s survivors.
Click here for more photos of The Verve Pipe from City Winery.
For additional information on The Verve Pipe, visit TheVervePipe.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at City Winery include The Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson (Jul. 22); Jackopierce (Jul. 23-24); Booker T. Jones (Jul. 25); Louis Prima Jr. & the Witnesses (Jul. 28); Michael McDermott (Jul. 29); Brandy Clark (Jul. 30) and Marc Broussard Acoustic Duo (Jul. 31). For additional details, visit CityWinery.com/Chicago.