20 thoughts during the Stone Roses gig
You can’t keep your eyes from the drummer.
He may have just recovered from being unwell and could have been excused for being rusty but he was as effervescent and free flowing as he was in 1984. He plays like no other drummer. He has the power of rock- his true love but an amazing funk and his drum rolls are pure melody.
As soon as he kicks in you know its him, a truly distinctive style.
Reni’s backing vocals are so good they make the band a five piece, also a great guitar player (go and check out the youtube clips of his post Roses band The Rub). After the press conference he was worried about having the stamina to do this but tonight he drummed like he could have played for hours. People used to check out the Roses just to see Reni in the early days- I would urge you to do the same now even if you don’t like the band.
After the gig there was talk of another secret gig. It could have been in the heady excitement of the post show comedown, it could have been wishful thinking- there’s not a lot of time till Barcelona to squeeze one in but this is the Stone Roses and they don’t operate by the rules. Best to check the band’s Facebook page and website for more info.
I bumped into Liam after the gig, met him a few times before but I just want to underline how humble he is and nothing like the tabloid image he has been saddled with. He still plans to go to a lot of the Roses shows and was happy to take a side roll in the Roses comeback gig- no airs and graces, no bullshit, just a northen lad in love with rock n roll and the Roses who just happened to be in the biggest band of the nineties.
I still think Beady Eye are underrated and also that he should speak to his brother but he wasn’t having that. He told me about the second Beady Eye album they are working on and words like Spector and All Things Must pass cropped up and we both agree that the George’s triple post Beatles album is the true post fab four masterpiece. That made me think that anyone who loves that record has a spiritual side because the coolest thing about George Harrison at that point was that he made records that oozed with spirituality without being boring. Maybe Liam is unconsciously spiritual and he can’t express it- that sort of thing is not very northern to blurt out! that’s what we have rock n roll for and that’s why we become singers or players- to blurt out the stuff that we can’t say in real life.
Just like Blackpool the Stone Roses staged a key moment in a town sneered at or forgotten by the hipsters and it worked. The audience was mainly local, there was a great bit on TV this morning when a woman said she was going shopping when she heard news of the gig and had to run down to Parr Street with her Roses record sleeve which she picked up from home to get a tickets. Shane Meadows camera crew were telling me that they were filming the gig and when it was announced that people were running out of their houses to the gig, thrilled at the Roses playing the gig and thrilled that Warrington was briefly the centre of pop culture.
Of course he had the iconic stuff nailed down, he said he was slightly nervous before the show and that is understandable- a crowd in love with a band is harder to play to that one that is not- expectations are high and no-one wants a let down. When he walked on stage Ian had the swagger thing down. It must have been great playing the local big hall in the town you were born in, that means something, he spent the first few years of his life in a terrace not far from here.
There was talk of his singing and despite few wayward notes in Tightrope- a song that is tricky to sing, his voice was strong all night. He sings higher again capturing the feel of the early songs- the twelve months off the fags and the dropping of the keys of the songs slightly all helped here.
This debate over the singing is getting boring now. The great Manc frontman are communicators not opera singers. Shaun Ryder, Morrissey, Ian Curtis, Mark Smith- they communicate across the song and it all sounds better for it, like Bob Dylan it’s what you do with your voice which is far more important than the boring stuff than singing in tune which is for those auto-tuned X Factor goons.
Grinning like a Cheshire cat and swinging his bass with pure pleasure of being home at last, Mani was conversely the one that wanted this the most and the one most at home in his post Roses world.
Playing in Primal Scream was perfect for him but the Roses is something else.
His bass was high in the mix and slinky and tight.
A new collection of basses with Damon Hurst psychedelic swirls or chrome plaited with, what he told me after the show were carvings of Dave Hill- the guitar player from the mighty Slade embedded on them, all had the required bass wobble.
On his bass amps he has a load of gurning Toby Jugs- one amp is covered in jugs with police and judges on them- could be an interesting merch idea here.
As he stands there playing he makes it look so effortless and easy. It’s like he’s playing guitar at home just pealing out the riffs. You notice that he is the master of so many styles from the chopping wah wah to pure sixties beat like the Monkees, there are the Hendrix trills, the Jimmy Page blues and plenty of his own stylings- it’s like a six string encyclopedia.
After the gig he is more worried about the sound out front- a consummate pro- when John walks on stage he wants to get this tight whilst Ian and Mani bound on the stage like two naughty egg throwers thrown out of class at school- covering up for their seriousness.
The perfect choice to make the film, Shane Meadows comes from the same scooter boy/skinhead background as some of the band and understands that the Stone Roses story is the story of British street culture- the post punk youth tribes that existed beyond the Hacienda in Manchester. This was a world of sharp clothes, black music and anthemic street punk records as well as scooters and weekenders. It’s a little documented world and one that has a great opportunity to be documented here. Meadows’ own series of films are some of the best films made in the UK in the last decade culminating in Made In England, a classic film that moved the stereotyping of skinheads beyond being right wing morons and showed them as real people.
The set list.
Obviously as a warm show it lasts only an hour- mostly culled from the debut album- could this be a clue to where the band are going with the new songs? the mooted âËpsychedelic pop’ that Ian Brown mentioned to us a few months ago? There were a couple of curveball b sides that showed they have learned a pile of songs in depth and two from Second Coming, including an unexpected Tightrope and the massive Love Spreads that is really coming into its own now.
An hour before the gig was announced I was interviewed on BBC 6music about the rumour of the Stone Roses playing new songs in their set on the upcoming tour. The songs do exist in varying stages. There are demos of Ian and John on them and there are jams between various band members, my guess is that there is stuff that is demoed up fully as well and don’t forget that this is a band that took it time to finish what it was doing.
there is always this thing that when I write about the Stone Roses people start going on about new bands. On one level they are right, the world is clogged up with old bands but if they are great they deserve their space. Music belongs to no-one and an old band is as valid as a new one. It’s hard to believe that some of these people only like new bands- what weird way of listening to music. I listen to it all old new, heavy light, rock, pop, indie, African, blues- whatever- I grew up with John Peel, I like that eclectic thing and I will write about old or new bands.
The thing about not taking pictures at gigs
There was some internet anger about the ban on taking live shots and filming the gig. From the band’s point of view this was almost like a semi public rehearsal and not a normal gig. The security were politely asking people not to film the gig, maybe the band didn’t want stuff out on the internet, to be honest it was quite easy to film stuff and many people did.
Even now one year in the band have retained their mystique, after the gig we were talking about this and how amazing that they have pulled this off in there twitter age. The band that can fade away when it wants to and return and no-one seems to tweet it. They can rehearse somewhere in the north and no-one spots them. They can re-emerge for a gig in Warrington, post it on their site at 4 in the afternoon , play, blow people minds and disappear again like some kind of rock n roll guerrilla unit.
Met some great people in there, some people from the Justice Tonight gigs, Clash fans who feel the link with the Roses down to that Ritz gig, that recognition of two bands that occupy similar positions in different generations, bands that meant something and remain to mean something as the years roll by, bands that wrote songs that are part of the DNA of modern life, songs that people copped off to, got off their heads to, got divorced to…the atmosphere was, of course, intense and the crowd singing along to bass lines, guitar riffs and choruses drowning out the band.
I Wanna be Adored
They had to open with it. I thought they may swerve it to be awkward, place it in the middle of the set like they used to but you can’t get round the fact that the song is one of the great rock n roll openers and sets the tone perfectly.
It’s always great to see ex members of bands turning out years later and remaining part of the extended family, Funky Si Wolstencroft, whose book about his days as the drummer in the Roses is due soon was there and extolling the virtues of his replacement Reni and his former rhythm section buddy in the Roses, Pete Garner- the street walking cheetah himself was also there- as was Cressa who seemed to float in mid air- in some ways they retain eternal members of the extended family.
After the gig there was talk of all the songs that have been worked out. I asked about Somethings Burning, one of my favourite roses songs- Mani said he had worked the song out and it will be in the set along with many other even less likely, curveball songs.
I reviewed the gig in the Guardian and got the usual bunch of comments from people who never sign their names to them. Lots of people claiming that Reni is a crap drummer and that I should have not reviewed the gig since I wrote a book on the band and like the band- it’s hardly the first time that someone who likes a band has been sent to review them is it? I won’t apologise for being enthusiastic and am glad I have escaped the sneery half grave of middle age where irony passes as a sense of humour.
Plenty of people going out to Barcelona, the European shows will be English away days, The summer festivals will play themselves out and the band will start work on the album and disappear again- maybe re-emerge in a year with an album and a tour with plenty of surprises on the way.
the double bass drum
Reni had a double bass drum- each bass drum with a lemon on it- he had wanted one for years and finally it had arrived- the legendary composite kit made up of bits of other kits has disappeared…