I arrived worried about the sound and Ian Brown's voice, but walked away high on adrenaline and shellshocked from having seen The Stone Roses cement their reputation with a magical performance...
Hail stones attack from the right as 75,000 believers gather in Heaton Park for a musical pilgrimage.
Mancunians embrace, reunited for the first time in years by the reconciliation of the Roses. Their band, their youth, and twenty years in waiting.
The buzz of excitement across the field is palpable. Smiles adorn every face, the regular downpours unable to wash them away.
At 21:15 The Supremes ‘Stoned Love’ introduces four heroes, and it’s raining again, authenticating the Manchester occasion.
I was just too young for the first coming. I grew to adore The Roses from the words of the Gallagher brothers. A band that meant as much to Noel and Liam as their own meant to me.
I never thought I’d see them live, which enhanced a mystique now at risk. I’d read of how many ways it went wrong in the past. The sound at Spike Island and Brown’s vocals at Reading (and other).
Mani’s bass line to ‘I wanna be adored’ is the first sound heard. It’s loud, clear, and fucking brilliant, kicked along by Reni’s drums, the perfect rhythm section. The crowd sing John Squire’s guitar part before the master himself weaves his first magic of the evening, washing gently over the sublime foundation Mani and Reni have laid.
The sound will not be a problem.
Nor will Ian Brown’s vocals. From the first line you know everything is going to be just fine. “I don’t have to sell my soul, he’s already in me.” Its sung back at him on mass, with fists clenched and hearts full.
As the opening song ends I’m already appreciating the sound which fills the air, whilst worrying if I’ll ever hear them perform that song again.
Fuck worry. There’s no time for it and the next song will be just as good. And the next. Relentlessly magical, even the rain concedes defeat . ‘Mersey Paradise’, ‘Sugar Spun Sister.’ Punch, punch, punch. People dance in disbelief and joy.
The delicate moments which other bands might lose to the wind in a field this size are conquered. The whispered vocals of ‘Shoot you down’ crystallise the air, beautifully audible. “I’d love to do it and you know you’ve always had it coming”.
“Ten Storey Love Song” is huge. Pink lights burn bright, and the underlying romanticism at the soul of the Roses pulls at every string. You wonder how any album track listing such a song could ever have been deemed a disappointment.
Perhaps the man who halted a reunion for so many years, John Squire smiles between solos, and allows he to indulge in ‘Fools Gold’. @johnrob77 describes it as “total sex”, later pointing out “it sounds like he’s playing with two guitars.” Squire and guitar are one, the most complex of solos seep effortlessly.
‘Love Spreads’ grooves with a refrain which could go on forever without ever approaching boredom.
‘Made of Stone’ is followed by ‘This is the One’. Pure pop songs on tap with huge choruses bursting full with hope. Songs for the people. I shut my eyes and lap it up. This is the one. This is The Stone Roses.
Reni smashes out the iconic intro and the band soar off into utopia, taking 75,000 people with them
Mani elevates the band into ‘She bangs the drums’. He holds his instrument with focus and a face full of emotion. It means just as much to him. Ian Brown dances in between his gospel deliveries, soaking up the sounds being delivered by his mates. A privilege to front such musicianship, with a justified knowledge of how little it would mean without him.
He dedicates a gorgeous ‘Elizabeth my dear’ to ‘Elizabitch’, asking “Did you put her there?”, before the knockout blow of ‘I am the Resurrection’ lands perfectly. Reni smashes out the iconic intro and the band soar off into utopia, taking 75,000 people with them.
The band hug before holding each other’s arms aloft. They’ve won, and leave the stage to Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ and a field full of thanks and appreciation.
Fireworks scream into the air, trying to reach the same heights at which the band exited, exploding far short.
The pilgrims leave the field. Woman are forced to find their own way home, left lost in the park by husbands lost somewhere else in their youth.
It was triumphant. Far from denting their legacy, they’ve cemented it.
It wasn’t about the money, it was about four friends putting their differences aside years later, united in the grief of one, before taking joy to so many.
It was about the purest form of song. Four musicians who do what they do in ways others can only dream of.
It was about the people, and filling them with hope at a time when bankers and politicians do all they can to take it away.
It was about ‘The Stone Roses’.
Who else was going to fucking do it?
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