RICHARD Ashcroft bounds across his dressing room looking like a last-chance fighter ready to face the ring. Outside fans already whipped up for the night spill out of Gallowgate bars and queue round the block chanting their champion’s name.

Glasgow Barrowlands is the greatest concert venue in the world” announces Ashcroft, as a gift for the first few hundred ready to walk under the animated neon he’s spent an afternoon signing gold stars referencing the celebrated constellations on the ballroom’s ceiling. It adds another sprinkle of magic dust to a Friday night in Glasgow.

The singer is under no illusion about the depth of feeling here. “When I arrived at the airport I was buying cigarettes at the same time as this woman on crutches”, he explains. “She hugged me and told me this story about how she left a horrible, abusive partner and gave him 20 minutes to get out. She sat listening to Bittersweet Symphony in the car as he packed.”

Ashcroft absorbs stories such as this on a daily basis when touring, and his 2006 solo hit Break The Night With Colour was influenced by letters from fans writing to him from prison. “It’s a symbiotic relationship, it’s not a one-way street. I enjoy the connection with fans in places like Glasgow or Monterrey in Mexico, that’s as close to the Barrowlands as I’ve ever felt. It’s one of the deadliest cities in the world and they are singing The Drugs Don’t Work back at me. Glasgow or Manchester might feel like a violent place on a Friday night but for them (in Monterrey) death can happen at any moment .”

Since the early days of The Verve or Verve as they were then known Ashcroft would rail against rival bands in his hometown of Wigan. As he suggests it was a “Muhammad Ali/Don King style” that helped set a big box-office tone in the press years before they released Urban Hymns, eventually shifting over 10 million copies it is currently the 19th best selling album in British chart history. Ashcroft doesn’t invite casual indifference, tonight over 2000 fans release a collective emotional valve. By the final encore of Bittersweet Symphony it's closer to a revival meeting with the singer drenched in sweat leading a devoted parish while dispensing spiritual balm. “My job is to make grown men cry, to blow people’s minds and elevate them, make them transcend and unlock emotions that have been repressed by life, their job, situation, that’s what I do.”

He also delivers on his promise of being one of the last pink Cadillac rock stars, with a guitar strapped over his shoulder, Ray-Ban sunglasses, sequins jacket and diamond ring he offers them a British people’s champion vision of the American dream when appearing in “the cities that get passed on” such as Middlesbrough and Nottingham.

What counters this is a reliably hostile response in the press. Ashcroft uses social media as a tool to unite his many followers, he recently posted an image of a journalist who gave his sixth solo album Natural Rebel a scathing one-star review. The singer responded by inviting him to the Barrowlands. “I thought he can’t be from Glasgow and if he is then he needs to be run out of town, he must have never seen the Barrowlands. I had a situation with another writer when I was in The Verve, he said ‘Richard Ashcroft is the type of guy you could take a glass to’. I saw him at the Man Utd v Bayern Munich European Cup final (in 1999) and couldn’t get to him but if I did he would’ve understood that I’m cool with anyone analysing my music any way they want but I’d liked to have asked him: ‘Why does it get personal?’ While the album won favourable reviews elsewhere he suggests this treatment is part of a wider cultural problem. “In American hip-hop a radio station will have Jay-Z or Nas on in the morning with a new kid, they glory in the lineage of the music. We live in a culture where Radio 1 hasn't played a Gallagher brother, an Ian Brown or Richard Ashcroft record in years purely on the basis of how old we are. When I first saw The Stone Roses at Legends [nightclub] or heard How Soon Is Now by The Smiths it changed my life. The reason all these bands are linked is that we did it ourselves and we are connected to these rivers of music and the people that influenced us. There is editing and discrimination of this country’s cultural history and it’s a disgrace, it’s not even a commercial radio station, we pay for it and the committees that run them. That’s why I pulled out of a couple of Radio 2 sessions, they had me pencilled in and I looked at my tune on the C list. I just thought ‘f*** you and your little committee!’”

Last year Ashcroft and Liam Gallagher mustered their forces for a triumphant joint tour, their long friendship began 26 years ago when he invited Oasis, then an unknown five-piece, on tour. “It’s a beautiful thing, that relationship will be forever, we’ll always be connected until we die and beyond.” He says of the younger Gallagher: "We’re the only guys in this country of our generation who could start at Land’s End and walk to John O’Groats and spend nothing on beer, cigarettes or whatever we needed to survive because we’ve got people through some tough times, our bands have helped people say ‘I’m sick of being told that’s my ceiling, that’s as far as you can go.’

When Noel Gallagher suggested he would like to collaborate with Ashcroft he initially thought he could mediate between the estranged brothers. “I’d love it if Oasis got back together for them and for the mam but you know what; they’ve done it! I’m not the Kofi Annan of Oasis.”

Ashcroft has since distanced himself from Noel after a suggestion was made that he had a team of songwriters behind him. “Who is he anyway? Just some little fellow I met years ago who wrote some good tunes.”

Ashcroft, warming to his theme doesn’t miss and hit the wall on the subject of a war of words between Liam and Paul Weller: “Liam honestly doesn’t give a f*** what Paul Weller thinks! It’s like the last year of school with some of these guys thinking they’ve got the right trousers and are sat at home polishing their Chelsea boots for the rest of their lives. That’s not how the jungle works.”

In the background sits Ashcroft’s wife since 1995 Kate Radley formerly of Spiritualized a band that co-existed alongside Verve in the early 90s playing similarly overdriven psychedelic rock. Once the muse of former Spiritualized band-mate Jason Pierce she would soon become the focus of Ashcroft’s country-tinged radio ballads spliced with a helping of feel-good Neil Diamond. On Streets Of Amsterdam from Natural Rebel, he reflects back to the early days of their relationship. “At some point, you have to see each other through the heavy shit together, that song was about a time when we were in Amsterdam without a worry in the world. You have to decide, are you going the whole way together, most rock stars are going out with girls younger than my son, they are the same age as my grandad, it’s weird seeing it.” His melodic album opener All My Dreams was written in the wake of the 2017 Westminster Bridge terrorist attacks. “My son had to cross the bridge going to school, obviously with those events, as a parent (of two sons)in this modern age, you feel very insecure. People in Belfast understand it’s supposed to be something we all get used to but I’ll never get used to that. When you are with your family all under the same roof at the end of the day you think about what your whole life is invested in.” He reflects for a moment on the strengths of his former band when playing this venue on the cusp of greatness before turning his attention to what’s in front of him. “It’s a chance to take part in something unique because after this gig it’s gone - I might never play this venue again! I’m planning on it being the last time, it’s a big moment in my life, some things are best left in your head and soul. I’ve heard some performances by Scott Walker and he’s only managed to sing a line or two and gone home, doing this takes a lot.” Prior to These People (2016) the singer spent the best part of six years away from the public’s gaze, does he intend on returning to the wilderness? “That’s not the wilderness”, he says “the wilderness is out here in the mainstream, that’s the crazy world. When I was living away from this I was outside of it all. The most sacred thing you can get is time, that’s all people want on their death bed; that’s what it’s all about.”

Richard Ashcroft will play Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on April 23