Glastonbury god Michael Eavis recently announced that he wants The Stone Roses on his farm next year. For me, seeing them on the hallowed ground of the Pyramid Stage would be the only thing that could come close to Heaton Park…
This was what music is supposed to do to people. This second homecoming gig made people (literally forced them to) jump, sing out of tune and smile like idiots. I’m incredibly glad I was one of those idiots.
There were huge doubts about Ian Brown’s voice in the seemingly endless run-up to these gigs. As it happened though, 75,000 fans did most of the singing for him. I’ve never heard so many people chant the (quite frankly dull) name ‘Ian’. For that matter, I’ve never heard so many people singing.
When Mani started the opening refrain of “I Wanna Be Adored”, the noise was deafening. They say that the sign of a truly devoted following is fans singing the riffs too. Oasis had it, the Arctic Monkeys had it and Heaton Park reverberated with it on the Saturday night.
It’s well documented that watching The Stone Roses convinced Liam Gallagher to try his hand with a tambourine, so it was fitting that Beady Eye’s supporting slot featured “Rock N Roll Star”. Most fans were surely disappointed though that the only other Oasis track they rolled out was “Morning Glory”. Overall, their set was more of a damp squib than the largely well-behaved Manchester weather.
The punters were decidedly better behaved on the Saturday night too – Friday night brought reports and pictures of people looting the bars. Of course, three bars serving 75,000 is daft, but everyone looked plenty merry as they were spilling out of Northern Quarter pubs beforehand.
By the time the Roses were in full flow, everyone was beaming. There’s no denying that the atmosphere at Heaton Park was unique.
I’ve heard they were great at Benicassim and they will undoubtedly be a highlight at next year’s Glastonbury. And obviously it’s always amazing to see bands up close and personal at smaller venues, but their Manchester homecoming was special.
Ian Brown has lost none of his swagger, performing step aerobics and shaking his sleigh bells with the mammoth crowd in the palm of his hand. He’d definitely be in with a shout for the title of World’s Ugliest Cheerleader, but I love him and I’m not on my own there.
John Squire was masterful, particularly on numbers like “Fool’s Gold”, where he experimented and delighted fans for a good five minutes. And, of course, he stole the show with the inspired intro to “Love Spreads”. Brown played the song out with a rap he’d built into it during warm-up shows, borrowing from a hip hop song by Eric B. & Rakim. It was a bit odd to say the least, but if Ian Brown sang the theme tune to Titanic, Roses fans would still lap it up.
Anthems like “Made of Stone” went down incredibly well. But then it really was a set full of anthems. “Sally Cinnamon” was one of my picks of the night – a true indie-pop song for the masses to sing along with.
“Scarborough Fair”-infused favourite “Elizabeth My Dear” was up as the penultimate number. It led perfectly into “I Am The Resurrection”, sending the crowd into delight and turning it into a sea of outstretched arms.
Looking back on footage of it, Brown’s voice faltered again here, but absolutely nobody gave a shit at the time and they shouldn’t now. This was not a gig for those who want a perfect sound from gigs – it was for those who want a performance, and The Stone Roses did not disappoint on that front.
The famously long outro to “I Am The Resurrection” couldn’t go on long enough. When it finally came to close, a drawn-looking Mani triumphantly threw his hands into the air, and then there were hugs all round, personal differences put aside in their moment of glory. The fireworks were almost an anti-climax as the crowd united one last time to bellow out Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”.
This wasn’t a gig that you need to boast about having been to – remembering you were there and what it was like is enough.
The Stone Roses setlist:
I Wanna Be Adored – Mersey Paradise – Sugar Spun Sister – Sally Cinnamon – Where Angels Play – Shoot You Down – Bye Bye Badman – Ten Storey Love Song – Standing Here – Fools Gold – Something’s Burning – Waterfall – Don’t Stop – Love Spreads – Made Of Stone – This Is The One – She Bangs The Drums – Elizabeth My Dear – I Am The Resurrection