The Stone Roses, sometimes hailed as one of the greatest bands in the world, performed their opening gig at the Etihad Stadium to 50,000 adoring fans, all praising their glorious return and ‘resurrection’ into the public eye. It was a once in a lifetime gig; worth every penny.
Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of the Stone Roses.
Local psychedelic/indie outfit Blossoms opened the night. Next was reggae artist Chronixx with an ode to marijuana and a tribute to Bob Marley. It was all wrapped up with Public Enemy, who performed with military uniform-clad dancers working out beside them and a top DJ that remixed grunge tracks. They closed with an anti-racial and anti-separatist speech that inspired many fans to follow the lead singer in raising a middle finger.
“There were rainbows of smoke bombs and flares going off intermittently and – of course – about 5 plastic beer bottles thrown per second”
The Roses had no grand entrance: they kept it cool and casual, strolling on with Ian Brown asking “you alright, love?”. They started out with none other than ‘I Wanna Be Adored’. The dark, growing bass from Mani sent the already frenzied crowds manic.
Reni had the time of this life drumming in his famous bucket hat. Ian Brown looked like he could see God at the side of the arena whilst shaking bells. Squire played with a mop of hair hiding his face for the most part, as mysterious and moody as ever. Mani complained “stop with the fucking flares, they’re killing me”. There were rainbows of smoke bombs and flares going off intermittently and – of course – about 5 plastic beer bottles thrown per second. And bucket hats. So many bucket hats.
The setlist could have been tricky – The Roses would obviously want to reserve some time for their two new tracks, as well as including plenty of the crowd-pleasers from their two albums. They focused closely on The Stone Roses, with a sprinkling of Second Coming.
Their second track was ‘Elephant Stone’, followed by ‘Sally Cinnamon’. Up next was ‘Mersey Paradise’, ‘Sugar Spun Sister’, ‘Bye Bye Badman’, ‘Where Angels Play’ and ‘Shoot You Down’. There were fears that this first part of the set featured tracks that could have been forgotten – some of them are B-sides – but they were adored just as much as tracks from The Stone Roses.
“The atmosphere was second to none. It really was “all for one””
Any sound issues must be attributed to the fact that the Etihad is an open air venue. At times it was hard to distinguish Mani’s bass and difficult to hear Squire’s guitar. However, their attitude, their well-practiced performance style and timeless, unifying songs made up for it all. The atmosphere was second to none. It really was “all for one”. It felt like everyone there knew all the lyrics and loved The Stone Roses wholeheartedly.
Some tracks, particularly before ‘All for One’, sounded slower than normal. You found yourself singing it and waiting for Brown to catch up, though this didn’t really lessen the experience. We can’t expect them, as men in their forties and fifties, to have the same vigour as they had previously. I couldn’t complain about anything, despite some seated sections not being filled to capacity due to various issues with online ticket sales.
After ‘Shoot You Down’, we were treated to ‘Begging You’ and ‘Waterfall’, which slid seamlessly into ‘Don’t Stop’ – a sequence that was bound to happen considering it’s the same song, just backwards. ‘Elizabeth My Dear’ readied us for new track ‘All For One’, which had so much more energy than the first half of the gig. To my surprise, they didn’t play their newest track, ‘Beautiful Thing’. The gig would have been a brilliant live debut opportunity.
The next few tracks (‘Love Spreads’, ‘Made of Stone’ and ‘She Bangs the Drums’) were performed with the same energy. As the sky grew darker, lasers, flashing lights and smoke added to the visual effects. The atmosphere grew closer, there was more dancing, singing and hands in the air. Soon, excitement turned to complete thrill and adoration.
“How could you top ‘Resurrection’?”
The audience calmed slightly with ‘Breaking into Heaven’ and ‘This is the One’. This track was something else. It had everyone grinning. Of course, the gig closed with ‘I Am The Resurrection’ – the only track that could have ended the gig, the only track everyone knew all the words to. The crowd hummed along in unison. People turned to face one another to sing, acknowledging that this was the song they’d all come to be utterly blown away by. This song turned a love for The Stone Roses into an adoration that would last a life time.
We begged for an encore, but there was to be none. How could you top ‘Resurrection’? The four hugged each other while the fans hailed them. The Roses held hands and “made a wall” – as they sing in ‘All For One’. Brown told us we were the best fans in the world and to give them five minutes because they were going to do it all again.
It was an experience like no other. Even if the music or performance did not appeal, the togetherness of the crowd, united by The Stone Roses, was an indescribable sight.
Emily is currently listening to ‘Hold On You’ by Jake Bugg.
Image courtesy of Man Alive! via Flickr (CC)