Stone Roses: Heaton Park Sunday : live review

Stone Roses
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; the monstrous 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 a Technicolor 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.

Stone Roses: Heaton Park Sunday : live review

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 have shied 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 The 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.

All words and images by Sarah Lay. You can read more from Sarah on Louder Than War here or follow her on Twitter.

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Sarah is a former editor of Louder Than War and a freelance music writer for numerous other publications online and in print. Co-owner of Reckless Yes Records she has put out music by LIINES, Pet Crow and lots of other awesome bands as well as put on shows by bands including Bivouac, Mark Morriss, Desperate Journalist and Dream Nails. She's an author, user experience designer and digital content strategist, as well as an occasional broadcaster. Sarah is a compulsive collector of coloured vinyl, a believer in the boogie and is in love with possibilities.


  1. Could’nt agree more Sarah, an amazing night was had by all…the sheer power and presence of The Roses was astonishing. The full force of a train springs to mind!!! “iLike”

  2. Glad you had a good night Jef M – you’re right, they were astonishing. I’ve never seen a pit so full of smiles and to see it reflected on stage was wonderful.
    The question is of course, what now? New album? Tour?

  3. Bang on Sarah, been waiting years for that and it was the best live music i’ve ever heard. I’m not a mosh pit hero just got my groove on near the back with family and friends. It was an uplifting almost spiritual experience. The only downside is it was too good, can any other band ever live up to that live? “oh no, I don’t think so”. Wow, still buzzing. Peace and Love.

  4. Yeah, still buzzing too Jonny C! You’re right it was a very uplifting gig and I think whether you were down the front, near the back or lost somewhere in the middle there was a definite feel of unity about it all.
    Can any other band live up to it? I don’t know either…but I’m gonna have a great time going to see some amazing bands to find out!
    Believe x

  5. I went on the Friday. It was by far the best concert of my life- and I’ve been to many great gigs over the years. In my blog, I’ve tried to put in words how fantastic this concert was and how much it meant to me to finally have seen The Stone Roses live. httpss://

  6. Great review Nina – thanks for sharing. I know what you mean about it meaning so much to so many because they’d waited for so long.
    Can you pick a favourite moment?

  7. I have never been so disappointed in all my life. It seems over the years since the Roses were together Brown has disappeared even further up his own backside. why do they behave like they have some god like status when we wanted them to be just one of us.

    I remember The Roses being poor live back in the day and unfortunatly I should have known better the hype is bigger than the reality rose tinted specs and all that.

    I’m glad Beady Eye saved the day otherwise it would have been a complete waste on the whole the Roses mirrored the behavior of some in the crowd who were toileting in front of everyone and I mean a number 2 absolutly gross and so disappointing just like the so called heroes on the stage.

    In summary the hype was as expected well over hyped and thats 8 hours of my life wasted..

    • Shame you didn’t go the Heaton Park shows- they were amazing, didn’t meet one person who had a bad time

      • Natasha – I’ve heard mainly good things from people who were at Heaton over the weekend. There is the usual stuff about queues being too long and it being muddy but with that aside most people who’ve commented seem to have had an ace time with a band who exceeded their expectations. There’s no right or wrong though is there with music? What does it for one won’t do it for another!

    • Ah Rich, that sucks that they didn’t live up to your expectations :( I guess it’s interesting that we came out with different views though – personally I like my rock stars to be a bit, well, rock star-ish. But what I consider to be frontmanship you see as arrogance.

      Why do they behave like Gods? Well, there were 75,000 people their each night, most of who were looking on that stage with adoration and reverence – it’s gotta go to your head a little bit ain’t it? ;)

      I didn’t see Beady Eye as they were on the Saturday (we had Plan B as main headliner on the Sunday and I missed him as I was chatting to the boss!) but have heard lots of people say they enjoyed Liam and co’s set.

      As for the conditions at Heaton Park – yeah, agree that things could have been improved in terms of facilities. Queues for the bar and toilets were amazingly long so you do get people taking matters into their own hands so to speak :(

      Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy it though – it’s gutting when something you want to be good just doesn’t do it for you on the day.

  8. This is exactly the review I would want to write. Sunday night was being in the presence of a true band. Sure there were the ‘can they pull it off’ moments leading up to the gig, but man did they pull it off, and some. Reni and Mani are the rocks that allow John and Ian to create. Ten minutes of Fools Gold bass and drum grooves is something to behold. This was way up there in the the top 5 gigs. Driving from the south coast Sunday morning, getting back to the south coast at 5am was worth it. Did I care about the mud, the p*** and getting passively stoned with 75000? Nah, I was mad for it.


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