The announcement that The Stone Roses were to reform sparked jubilant celebrations, both amongst the fans who ‘were there the first time’, and younger fans who had accepted that listening to records was as close as they would get to this ‘seminal Manchester pop group’ (cheers Squire). Almost two years on and this excitement is as strong as ever as The Stone Roses arrived in North London for two dates in FinsburyPark.
As with Heaton Park last summer, both days had been made into mini-festivals with high class support acts. Friday saw Rudimental, The Courteeners and Dizzee Rascal attempt to warm up the crowd, while Saturday’s crowd were most definitely warmed up by Miles Kane;, Johnny Marr and Public Image Ltd.
Johnny Marr’s renditions of Smiths songs, ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’, ‘How Soon Is Now’ and ‘There Is A Light…’, started the party, before John Lydon’s thrilling post-punk band, PiL, both scared and entranced a reasonably receptive audience. As enjoyable as the support acts were, however, there was only one band that people had paid to see.
Due to begin their set at 8.40pm, the band arrived on stage fashionably late. As the minutes ticked by, and the band’s walk-on song, ‘Stoned Love’, still hadn’t been played, the more pessimistic members of the crowd might have begun to wonder if it had all fallen apart backstage and we were about to witness the re-break-up of The Stone Roses. However, approximately fifteen minutes late, The Stone Roses dispelled these notions and entered to huge applause, from young and old alike. This was a moment where age was no barrier; it was all about the music.
As expected, Mani’s rumbling bass on ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ opens the set. Two minutes in and FinsburyPark is already bouncing: outrageous dance moves, middle-aged men hugging and the token ‘girl on boyfriend’s shoulders’. Next comes ‘Elephant Stone’, only a recent addition to the setlist, and this ‘inexperience’ shows, with a slightly underwhelming rendition of one of their best songs. But this is The Stone Roses, and every song is a life-changing experience. Remember that.
After this breathtaking start, there is a slight lull, before an extended version of ‘Fools Gold’ reignites the special atmosphere inside the park. With another year’s practice since their triumphant Heaton Park gigs, The Stone Roses are now a band confident enough to treat us to unrehearsed jams, which simply highlight John Squire’s incredible guitar-playing talent and Reni’s unchallenged position as King of Rhythm.
Eight songs from the end of the set and the party properly begins, showing just how many good songs they have at their disposal. ‘Waterfall’ is magical, as is the flawless segue into ‘Don’t Stop’. ‘She Bangs The Drums’ ensures that nobody is stood still, ‘Made Of Stone’ encourages a mass sing-along, and ‘I Am The Resurrection’ is the perfect set closer.
Whatever your opinion on bands reforming, it is impossible not to be won over by The Stone Roses. Perhaps this is because the band actually want to prove themselves, rather than just gather the cash, as many reformed bands do. What is certain is that they are four incredible musicians, and yes Ian Brown hasn’t got the best singing voice, but who cares when you can write lyrics like he does and he has 50,000 backing singers anyway?
The Stone Roses unite generations of music lovers and long may they continue to do so. Let’s hope the promise of new material bears fruit and it’s good as we all hope.
…Alex is listening to Public Image Ltd – Metal Box…