Manchester Heaton Park
Sunday 1st July 2012
The last of the run of Manchester gigs for the reformed Stone Roses saw an adoring crowd treated to a set of big tunes and the band sounding at their very best.
Last night was my first time.
They said to brace myself for disappointment, to not expect the Earth to move. These things, they said, are never what you want them to be.
They were so very, very, wrong.
The third and final night of Stone Roses reformation gigs at Heaton Park was all that I hoped for, and a little bit more.
A sea of bucket hats stretched as far as the eye could see and loose-limbed, vacant-eyed Madchester survivors Monkey-danced in the mud.
The excitement was palpable as this band-of-the-people took to the stage and the thrilling refrain of I Wanna Be Adored rippled over and around us.
The setlist was much the same as the previous two nights. The sublime pop of Sally Cinammon; the sweep of 10 Storey Love Song; mind-bending guitar on Standing Here; the iconic tumble of Waterfall; theÃÂ monstrousÃÂ dirty sneer of Love Spreads.
Appearing too were the wah-wah of Mersey Paradise, an impressive bass run to climax Something’s Burning, early favourite This Is The One and a mass sing-a-long for She Bangs The Drum.
Don’t Stop dripped in psychedelia as Ian sings his part backwards and the lights cut through the haze in the air. He plays the part of frontman well too, heading down to the barrier in front of the stage to shake hands with people, many of whom have waited 20 years for the chance to hear this band play.
The sound is tight and unlike previous nights at Heaton doesn’t seem to hit any snags. It’s a riptide of tunes pulling you under, swirling you round and spitting you out in aÃÂ TechnicolorÃÂ afterglow.
John Squire has rightly earned his accolade as a phenomenal guitar player and the extra jams and the way he evolved the classic tunes so they sounded fresh but still so reassuringly familiar was something to behold. He took the indie-rock standards of Madchester and transformed them with touches of blues, psychedelia and the most swirling of riffs. Impressive but even more so when he does it all looking so relaxed; luxuriating in the effortlessness of creativity, confident but not cocky.
But this is very much a band – each member a master of their part individually; the pull of the Roses being that the songs are all the greater for being a sum of these parts.
Reni and Mani form a solid, yet fluid, rhythm section. Reni’s return is much-welcomed and he peerlessly throws out rollercoaster beats which set the fire from which the smokey bass and guitar snake upwards toward the flickering vocal.
Doubters are always quick to scoff at Ian Brown’s vocal abilities but tonight his voice soared. The crowd could have carried him, he could haveÃÂ shiedÃÂ away and swaggered rather than sung. But he didn’t and the fact it was angelic tones rather than dropped notes just heightened the magic in the air.
The four of them looked comfortable, confident, and overcome with the moment as I Am TheÃÂ Resurrection faded out into the night. As they hugged each other and joined hands to face their fans their thrill at playing together again, like this, was evident alongside the adulation of the crowd.
As John Robb tweeted from his position at the side of the stage: “it’s all smiles up here, victory”. But in the crowd too it was all smiles as the longed for anthems and much-missed songs filled our ears. For many it was disbelief they were actually hearing the Roses after so long, euphoria that they sounded so good.
Sheer joy on 75,000 faces and a band revelling in rediscovering what they mean to so many and the magic they weave when they’re together.
You can read John Robb’s reviews of Friday and Saturday at Heaton Park as well as reviews of the Roses shows in Warrington, Lyon, Amsterdam and Barcelona. Have you managed to catch them yet this summer? Let us know what you thought by leaving a comment below, on Facebook or @ us on Twitter.