another muddy festival?
another muddy festival?

Stone Roses
Manchester Heaton Park
June 30th 2012

Aftermath...Heaton Park after 75 004 people delivered
Aftermath…Heaton Park after 75 004 people delivered

Everyone here seems to be from Glasgow toon.

As we walk up to the gig through the heavy showers there is an endless stream of Glaswegians coming up for chat. The Stone Roses meant so much up there, the city that was famous for its fierce love of bands, the city where people would record their live albums because the audience was louder and wilder than anywhere else, the city that hosted classic gigs in the sixties that are carved into rock n roll legend and the city that fronted classic gigs in the punk days from bands like the Clash and the Stranglers that are part of the punk legend with an avalanche of adrenalin, brawls with bouncers and arrests all becoming part and parcel of the myth”¦and there was also the Stone Roses Glasgow Green show, the famous last live gig with Reni from the first time round.

That was the night in the big top where sweat rained from the roof and the band sounded at the peak of their powers, the world was at their feet and everyone wondered what could possibly go wrong”¦

I remember that night clearly, there was a Sex Pistols power added to the Roses that night and the crowd was totally wild. It was the greatest Stone Roses gig for years until Lyon last week.

The first night at Heaton Park was still a big one that is well up there but was marred by slight sound problems that prevented it getting to number one. The band played great but Lyon had been sublime and in my review yesterday I wondered if the big arena was not the right space for the band’s subtleties to breathe.

Tonight proved how wrong I was. The sound was spot on. Perfect. Everything was in place and the band were slinky and loose in a way that only the best musicians dare, the rhythm section was purring and John Squire was even more audacious on guitar and Ian’s vocals were the best we have heard them- completely contradicting the reviews of the gig.

They played the same set as the night before but there were further added jams to the songs, I Wanna Be Adored had a loose-limbed outro with some blues licks for Squire as the famous bass line rumbles to a halt. The Fools Gold outro changes every night- ever changing, ever morphing into new spaces and shapes. Don’t Stop is now the highlight of the set, the way it feels like its going backwards is a truly psychedelic moment, Ian Brown sings his backwards part with, what I’m guessing, is an added reverse reverb that really trips the song out that goes beyond drugs and is a reminder of the band’s windowpane period.

Made Of Stone is massive and anthemic and the second half of the set surfs along on with its uppercut anthems that come thick and fast. Another highlight is This Is The One- one of their oldest songs that captures the euphoria of being alive and walking tall in the rain and murk of a Mancunian summer evening like tonight”¦when they came up with that one in 1985 they must have known they were onto something.

These songs maybe decades old but they somehow work today, the Independent called the band conservative but they are anything but, there is still plenty of adventure left in these old songs, plenty of scope to move them around and change them which they do live in front of your eyes.
They also morph from one style to another from the funky shakedown of Fools Gold to the crystalline pop of Sally Cinnamon to the endless toying with the power chord ending of I Am the Resurrection- the Roses shape shift from one style to another with ease. As the Mancunian awkward band the Fall all once sang, the experimental is now conventional and music is so blurred now that it’s hard to tell what is mainstream and what is on the edge, making conservative an inaccurate observation.

If Friday was a band getting into gear Saturday was the one, that extra twist that took the band to a new level. The question is where do you go from here? Can you get any bigger or do you pull back and get the new album ready? After these shows will it be a year or so before we hear from the Stone Roses again? The comeback has been audaciously successful; phase 2 could be the real test, the real third coming when they finish and release the new album.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Friday was just unbelievable. The overcrowding/organisation was a bit shit but the band’s performance was out of this world. Only complaint I have is virtually no Second Coming songs. I shouldn’t be complaining as never thought I’d get to hear Where Angels Play or Don’t Stop live but I don’t like how it’s being glossed over as if it never happened. It’s a brilliant album and deserves recognition.

    • You said it DrBass, I’m skeptical of anyone who bad mouths Second Coming, I generally assume they know nothing or have never even listened to it, instead just repeating the general reception it got at the time. Clueless!

  2. Sorry, I have to disagree. My girlfriend and I were there on Friday AND Saturday and we’re both fans from back in the day. We’re both very much of the mind that Friday was the better night by far. Friday was their homecoming… the return of the prodigal sons, Saturday was good, but to us they had already peaked. The group hug at the end on Friday said it all.

    Brown has not been known for his ability to hold a tune, but he sounded like his angelic younger self on a great many of the Friday set, while last night was a slight return to his gruff, deeper, note dropping older self… still better than the last few years of his solo career, but not as good as Friday. My girlfriend and her friend are returning tonight for the last of the Heaton Park gigs… so she can have the final say on which night was the best of the three.

  3. Friday night was truly awesome and to be fair ian brown was far better than I thought he would be. I went there thinking the crowd would drown him out and save each song but he was amazing as were the rest of the band. Heaton park is a shit place tho’, a nightmare to get out of after such a high!

  4. Was at the Sat gig and at Lyon. Sat blows Lyon out of it.
    Easy to say Lyon was great but the crowd were
    A bit sterile. Great crowd buzz Saturday and all over

  5. Spot on review. I have read some negative rubbish since Friday’s gig, and can only assume a lot of it was written by people that either were not fans in the first place or actually weren’t there. They have been my favourite band in the world for some 23 years, but Heaton Park was the first time I ever managed to see them live.

    I have been at hundreds of gigs over the years, and this eclipsed them all, even The Pixies at Brixton Academy on the first leg of their comeback. Ian Brown’s voice may not be the strongest live, but who cares? He is still as good a frontman as I have ever seen, and nailed it on Friday. Squire was a revelation – we all knew he was a brilliant guitarist but some of his work at this gig was on a different level altogether – Fool’s Gold to me was a particular stand out.

    Made of Stone at Heaton Park was possibly the best moment of my life so far.

  6. Ive been to Barcelona and the Friday and Saturday at heaton park, they keep on getting better , amazing gigs , roll on Dublin on Thursday

  7. Saturday was beyond awesome. The sound was spot on, Brownie\’s vocal were strong throughout, and a grand day was had by all. My only niggles were that both \’Standing Here\’ and \’Something\’s Burning\’ just weren\’t up to it given the strength of their set. John Squire – please take a bow. Has he been secretly in his room practicing Hendrix for the last 15 years? Every aspect of the gigs at Heaton Park was considered and the attention to detail in putting these shows together was bang on. The only people slagging these gigs off are the hipster writers who are just simply incapable of getting it. It just makes you think what they could have achieved so much sooner if it hadn’t have all gone tits up.

  8. i went to barcelona and they totally blew me away ,i thought this is it they cannot get any better ,i was so wrong, saturday night at heaton park infront of an extra 70,000 people only made them step up a gear and into overdrive, This is the start of something very special.

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  10. Saturday night was bordering on biblical. I haven’t felt a communal excitement like that since the end of a winning cup final, the difference being that it lasted a couple of hours…. The atmosphere was amazing and it seemed to be an emotional experience for everyone as much as an amazing musical performance – the sheer joy of seeing and hearing something treasured that you thought you’d lost forever. I still have a silly grin on my face that hasn’t shifted since they walked on stage.

    • Agreed, Saturday (as I imagine Friday & Sunday were) was fucking amazing, I’ve never been to a place where 99% of the people were there for the love of 4 men and their genius – the other 1% were the odd people we met who didn’t even know who the Stone Roses were…..Just the fact everybody wasn’t only singing the songs word for word (including Don’t Stop!) but humming every guitar and bass line! By FAR the greatest gig / event i’ve even been to, and it will only ever be bettered if The Smiths reunite, and play in my front room…..

      Thank you Ian, John, Mani & Reni, you’ve made a lad from Boro very very fucking happy, can’t wait for the official DVD, fingers crossed it’s the Saturday gig

  11. Everyones ranting on about friday and saturdays gigs which one being the best night. I went to all 3 nights and I’ve just got to say sunday was the best night by far, something special was in the air and the band was so tight, even ian brown wen singing this is the one was pointing to the crowd as if to say THIS IS THE ONE meaning the best night, if they release a dvd of heaton park gig sunday will be the recording on it.

  12. I hope it’s not just the drugs that disguised it, but Sunday’s show was the best night of my entire life………………….

  13. Russell Carey… it wasn’t just the drugs… I refrained and can still say it was the most amazing experience of my life!

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  16. saturdays concert was superb and i hope they bring out a live at heaton park dvd so i could re-live it forever.

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