So this is how you stage a resurrection.
Far from the bright lights of Manchester, in the town where Ian Brown was born, The Stone Roses finally returned to the stage 16 years after their acrimonious break up.
The free gig – announced at 4pm on Wednesday (fans were asked to bring proof of their loyalty to the band – official T-shirts, CD inlays – to gain entry) – drew a huge crowd to the unlikely venue of Warrington Parr Hall, in northern England.
They were all hoping to catch a glimpse of the band who soundtracked a generation and, with the sugar-coated guitar pop of their 1989 debut album, set the template for almost all good British guitar bands over the following two decades, from Oasis to Arctic Monkeys.
If you want to know why the Stone Roses still matter, consider that their three huge shows at Manchester’s Heaton Park this summer are the fastest-selling gigs in British rock history.
The band have also signed a major record deal for two new albums, although tonight was not a night for debuting untested material. Instead the Roses stuck to a set of classic songs…from Made of Stone to Love Spreads…that made this an emotionally charged night.
The venue made perfect sense…it was places such as this that originally made the band’s reputation.
The Stone Roses formed in Manchester in 1984 but it took five years of underground shows and fine-tuning to arrive at a sound that blended indie-guitar melodicism with the communal rush of the emerging acid house scene. In the years since that self-titled debut album they have become one of the key, classic British bands.
As soon as they took to the stage, opening…as they did first time around…with I Wanna Be Adored, everyone in the room was singing along. This was one of those rare gigs where the audience even bellowed out the bass lines and guitar riffs. Arms were aloft and expectations intense. Even this most cocksure of bands looked slightly nervous for a few seconds, although it wasn’t long before singer Ian Brown located the swagger that would be copied by hundreds of frontmen, including a watching Liam Gallagher.
The famous songs came tumbling down, lifted by the guitar playing of John Squire. Made of Stone sent collective shivers down the crowd’s spine, whereas Where Angels Play sounded reinvented and even fresher than when first released.
Perhaps most thrilling of all was hearing how the nimble rhythm section that almost single-handedly invented indie-dance remained intact – Mani’s bass combined with Reni’s drumming to devastating effect. The best drummer of his generation still has his idiosyncratic skills intact, playing those distinctive rolls with a defiant looseness. Brown was on great form, his voice higher than in recent years after giving up smoking. He fills the room with his presence as the band play through their hour-long set.
The set ended with a brilliant version of Love Spreads from the Roses’ underrated second album, Second Coming, before leaving the stage with no return for an encore.
The statement has been made – the Stone Roses are back.
The band, who at one time could have had everything but seemed to throw it all away, have returned bigger than before.
I Wanna Be Adored
Made of Stone
(Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister
Where Angels Play
Shoot You Down
She Bangs the Drums
by Wallace McTavish