Heineken Music Hall
From the metro station at Amsterdam Central to the bars outside the Heineken Music Hall, the swarm of (mostly British) Stone Roses fans were notable by their feeling of calm trepidation and anticipation ahead of tonight’s performance and a sentiment of genuine excitement over what this band will be like ”â a sense of nervous excitement unique to the reformation of the Stone Roses, for their fourth post-reformation performance. The strains of the Sex Pistols, Toots and the Maytals and finally the Supremes (”ËStoned Love’ being peculiarly fitting to this Amsterdam audience) heralded the band’s arrival onto the stage. All beaming faces, before a note was played Brown excitably requested for the lights to be turned onto the audience for the first song. The rumbling bass tones of ”ËI Wanna Be Adored’ evoke cheers and applause from the audience but chanting along is minimal ”â everything on the stage is exposed tonight. The jamming at the end of ”ËAdored’ sets the tone for much of the gig, a lesson in quality and not self indulgence and a stark reminder of why the Squire, Reni and Mani combination needed to be reunited; when Ian Brown accidentally repeats the first verse of second song ”ËSally Cinnamon’ the band don’t miss a beat or bat an eyelid. Brown’s vocal gaffe doesn’t go uncriticised by some portions of the crowd, leading him to retort “What’s with the booing, could you do any better?”Â ”â the first indication that all may not be well within the Roses camp.
By ”ËSugar Spun Sister’, Ian’s vocals have really started to deliver and it’s from here that tonight’s performance really hits its stride. The Byrds-tinged bubblegum of ”ËWhere Angels Play’ slips seamlessly into the hypnotic groove of ”ËShoot You Down’, laying the foundations for the sonic delight of a ten minute ”ËFools Gold’. The constant dancing in the two balconies either side of the stage was hauntingly reminiscent of footage from the legendary Blackpool Empress Ballroom gig, though it came as some surprise to see a lot of empty seats in the upper tier of the venue. Only two tracks from ”ËThe Second Coming’ feature in tonight’s set list, a stripped down and folky ”ËTightrope’ (naysayers about Ian Brown’s vocal abilities should look only to his and Reni’s harmonising during ”ËTightrope’) and ”ËLove Spreads’ ”â with a little less Led Zep and a little more space to breathe, the highlight of the night and also the unexpected final song.
By the time that the band had left the stage (peacefully, might one add), they had turned the mood of the audience from trepidation to elation and triumphed over an uneasy start. The guitar feedback from ”ËLove Spreads’ petered out, the minutes went by and the energy in the room in anticipation for the expected and planned encore of ”ËI Am the Resurrection’ had reached fever pitch. It became slowly apparent that something wasn’t right, and the actions of the roadies, venue staff and lighting in the room completely contradicted one another as confusion was rife over where the concert would go next. After a long five minutes had passed and Ian Brown had walked onstage, everyone had expected that the Roses had simply been keeping the audience waiting and building up the atmosphere that perhaps wasn’t there before they took to the stage. Even when Brown ”â looking as confused and disappointed as the audience ”â announced “The drummer’s gone home”Â, there was a perception that this was tongue in cheek and some kind of jocular pantomime.
Ian Brown: ”ËThe drummer’s gone home, I’m not kidding you, the drummer’s gone home. So there you go. I’m not kidding you, the drummer’s gone home. Sorry about that. Get all your aggro out on me, get it all out, come on, get it all out, what can I say? The drummer’s a cunt”Â
The house lights shone and Bob Marley’s ”ËRedemption Song’ came over the PA, drowning out the cacophony of boos from an audience still insistent on not leaving the venue.
For the Stone Roses, the Amsterdam gig may well have been where business as usual really kicked in. With the passing of the hysteria of the Warrington gig and the first eagerly anticipated full sets at Barcelona, it felt from both audience and band that the tour really begun here. Whilst incredibly responsive and into the music, the Amsterdam audience was uniquely mellow and potentially scrutinising; something which could often be more intimidating than walking onto tens of thousands of vocal and ecstatic Roses fans at Heaton Park. Worthy of note is that for all that the press may belittle the bond between the band, the displays of affection and unity throughout the night seemed anything but contrived ”â making the early culmination of the proceedings all the more confusing. Ian and Mani posed and joked together, whilst Reni and John Squire joyously shout the words to ”ËMade of Stone’ back at one another. The Stone Roses is about positivity ”â the magic ingredient left absent from the second record ”â and the euphoria and celebration of the band when at their best tonight came from the positivity. It was finishing the gig without this positivity which left the Amsterdam crowd so disappointed and so confused. Alas, this is a Stone Roses concert and not that of a ready-made-Muse theatre event. Some see rock’n’roll as being defined by this sort of chaos, others think that rock’n’roll is turning up and blowing the crowd away. Indeed, the Stone Roses did both in turns, and as the tour goes on it seems that ”ËReni-gate’ is less than the end of the road and more just another bump.