The date is 18th October 2011. The time is 3:08pm and this particular music fan is frantically tapping away at a keyboard hoping to find information on the biggest music announcement of this, and possibly any other, decade. A posted link on a little known music blog takes me to a live feed of a press conference inside the function room of the London Soho Hotel. I had been hoping for this day for most of my adult life – a day that, on several occasions during this time, looked as though it might never happen. And then it appears on the screen, as quick as you like: the image the world wanted to see. Gary ‘Mani’ Mountfield, Alan ‘Reni’ Wren, Ian Brown and John Squire, sat side by side together, in the same room looking extremely happy and ready to take on the world again.
The Stone Roses were back.
Fast forward 257 days and nothing that has gone on since the announcement has done anything to quell the hype of the returning Manchester heroes. During that press conference, Brown was quoted as saying “This is a live resurrection, and you’re invited, so you’d better be there”. Even though the quartet had already performed at a handfull of European festivals aswell as a few headline shows in Barcelona and Amsterdam it was clear from the outset that the quote was directed at their 2 huge outdoor Heaton Park homecoming shows. 150 thousand tickets sold out in under 20 minutes making it the fastest selling rock show this country has ever seen. A quickly added third night sold out in under an hour meaning a total of 225 thousand fans would be in attendance over the weekender.
A quick glance around the crowd this evening dispells the notion that only bald, ageing, male 40 somethings would be in attendance, reliving their youth wearing baggy trousers and bucket hats: the crowd is extremely cosmopoitan and the age range is surprisingly vast. The wet weather is doing nothing to dampen the spirits and as the final chorus of The Supremes ‘stoned love’ floats accross the sodden field the time had arrived.
The noise that greets the band is quite simply deafening. This only increases when ‘Mani’ picks up his bass and begins the rumbling bassline of customary opener ‘I wanna be adored’. I’m not afraid to admit, it’s emotional. Brown’s voice is drowned out by 75 thousand others. We get our first glimpse of Squire on the big screen during a guitar solo and a huge roar greets the former Seahorses guitarist.
‘Mersey Paradise’ and ‘(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister’ quicky follow inducing mass sing-alongs from all four corners of the park. Once the euphoria of the opening had subsided you expect the tempo to slow but it’s not to be as King Monkey launches into fan favourite ‘Sally Cinnamon’. The frontman is in fine form and his voice is easily the best it’s ever been “Rainclouds, oh they used to chase me, down they would pour” he sings – a particularly apt lyric given the conditions.
The inevitable lull in proceedings just does not appear. The misgivings non-’Roses’ fans have that the band do not have enough great material for a gig of this magnitude due to only having released 2 albums is totally unfounded. The foursome rattle through ‘Where Angels Play’ ‘Shoot You Down’ ‘ Bye Bye Badman’ ‘Ten Storey Lovesong’ and ‘Standing Here’ as if they’d never been away.
One of the crowning moments of the night was yet to come – a 10 minute renditon of ‘Fools Gold’, which was quite simply stunning, Reni again proving he is possibly the greatest drummer of his generation. When the re-union was announced the media talked of Brown and Squire patching things up but fans will tell you that it was just as important, if not more so that Reni bought into the idea. His stickwork throughout ‘Fool’s Gold’ was almost hypnotic.
Performances of ‘Something’s Burning’, ‘Waterfall’, ‘Dont Stop’, ‘Love Spreads’ and ‘Made Of Stone’ are all greeted with mass hysteria, the chemistry between the band that existed in the early 90′s seemingly returning with every song.
‘This Is The One’ is easily Brown’s best vocal performance of the night quickly followed by a high tempo performance of ‘She Bangs The Drums’. Brown then brands the Royal Family “parasites” before singing album track ‘Elizabeth My Dear’. The crowd were in Partisan mood by this point lighting several red flares as Reni bashed the drums of set closer ‘I Am The Resurrection’, which, for me, was the higlight of the evening. Groups of strangers locked arms, only bonded by their love for 4 working class guys from Manchester.
“I am the resurrection and I am the light” they sang into the Manchester air. And then they were gone. A resurrection indeed, but for how long? On this evidence, The Stone Roses continue to be one of the most relevant bands around.
Were you there? What did you think of the reunited Roses? Share your own thoughts below…