One day someone said, have you heard this? It sounds like Velocity Girl’ by Primal Scream, it’s a girl friend who is giving me the heads up on a new Manchester sound, ‘sometimes I fantasize’, the world was about to turn day-glo…
March 1989 Rough Trade in Ladbroke Grove had been plundered in my lunch hour breaks from working in the Box Office at the Royal Albert Hall. First for Made of Stone on 12, and then on subsequent visits for ‘Elephant Stone’ 12 inch and finally THAT album!
Straight on the turntable. It never left…
Snub TV shows I wanna be adored/Sugar Spun Sister from the Hacienda gig, I want to see this band and the same girl mate says the Roses are playing at the ICA…
Monday 15th May 1989 an epiphany. Complete London Transport shutdown in London…no buses, trains or Tubes… it doesn’t deter us and we get cabs to and from the ICA. I think a lot of people didn’t bother (I bet they wished they HAD).
It’s my first sight of all things Stone Rose. Roadie Chris the Piss is selling T shirts. I want one of those but didn’t have the money. I WILL get one of those. The gig was quite empty. I was taken in by a lot of the crowd singing along in Northern accents. I’d love to do it, and ‘you know you’ve always had it coming’… hooked.
Monday 22nd May A week on, temperatures in the high 20’s the Summer of Love has begun and the Roses are playing Camden Dingwalls. It’s a completely mad sold out gig with water dripping off of the walls and ceiling in that tunnel like sweat box. Ian is swinging on the pipes above the stage. I’m hooked.
I tell all my mates in Oxford that they HAVE to see this band on Wednesday.
24th May 1989 I make my way down to Oxford Poly. Seems like quite a few Camden Scene mates are down there and don’t want to miss out either, apparently future Ride members Mark Gardener and Andy Bell were there too. It’s my first meeting with the band, I am ushered backstage after the gig, Mani in crazy eyes on spring joke specs!! All members are affable and approachable, they seemed just like you and me. I get gig posters signed by all 4 members and give them out to my mates later that night,
June 1989 Album in heavy rotation. My girl mates are off following the Roses around the UK. Me and a mate decide to do 4 dates at the end of June. We arrive in Northampton on a Saturday sitting in McDonalds and see the band walking past – they look like Superstars to us. Except no-one else knows. We know this is a special time.
Sunday and it’s a sleepy Norwich Arts Centre, Monday it’s Bristol, with terrible sound BUT we hang around after the gig, and Ian gives us a lemon T shirt each.
Tuesday and it’s Stratford Upon Avon Civic Hall. Spot Reni doing his washing in the launderette, the Hall was half empty for the gig (THEY still haven’t caught on.) Backstage afterwards and Ian is wearing THAT Co-Op T shirt and is firing a starting pistol above our heads while the band and crew are doing that whole arm finger snapping thing. We are amazed by their cool-ness Later as we get our heads down on the floor of a girlfriend’s room, Ian enters the room, takes of his green flared cords, that are all ripped and dirty at the bottom, and lays them out on the floor, flattens them out with his hands and folds them up into a neat pile – then he get’s into bed with one of our girl mates (they soon leave for another room)…
‘She Bangs the Drums’ was released and another trip down to Rough Trade for the 12, 7 and Cassette. Think it’s going to be MASSIVE, and am a little disappointed that it only makes 36 in the charts, but we do get to see the video on The Chart Show. Walking down the street you can hear the album coming out of Student House windows.
August 1989 Off to Blackpool on a windswept weekend. One armed tout outside can’t believe his luck as tickets are moving for shed-loads.
Hear Inner City’s ‘Good Life’ is blasting out through a massive PA. Hmmm I’m getting this. Ian comes on stage playing with a yoyo (that was apparently given to him by my now mate Geoff)… Manchester Vibes In The Area, we’re International, We’re Continental. Stand at the back with journos John Robb and Bob Stanley and take in the whole scene. It’s gone up a gear. THEY’VE caught on now and there’s no way back. Who is and Who isn’t…
September 1989 and girl mates announce that they’re off to Europe following the band. I think I’d better find someone like-minded to go with as well. I put an ad in the NME classifieds ‘anyone want to go to Europe to see The Roses?’ I get some responses. Two are from Manchester Travel Agents/Ticket Suppliers (hmmm..).. All aboard for the Cess Express to Amsterdam and Paris. I decide I want to go to Hamburg and Cologne too, so give Cess a miss, and ask Spike from Seemore Travel to help me procure’ tickets for Paris in return for some best seat Royal Albert Hall tickets for Simply Red or something like that…
Meet up with a Chelsea Casual, Stuart, from West London who answered the ad – he wants to come along for the ride. Fly to Hamburg, and say ‘let’s go and check out the venue’. Open up the big, barn type door, and immediately spot John Squire can we come in? Yes, of course. Go and sit down at the sides with Stuart. He is amazed that he is here, in the same room as his new found heroes. Tunes come on over the PA. The first one sounded like The Roses guitar sounds but was new to us, and then the 2nd one went on forever, full of wah-wah and funky sounds. Mani bowls over and says what do you think of the new single!?. This was Fools Gold’ and What The World Is Waiting For’ 6 weeks before it was to be released in the UK. Wow!
3rd October 1989 The Hamburg Logo and hearing THAT intro with the ‘woooooh’ alarm sound over the breakbeat (never did find out what this was!?…)
I was at the front, taking photos with Mitsui, another Roses Superfan at the time, and Stuart stood on a chair at the side of the stage shuffling from side to side along with the beat. Trying to find the energy to keep swaying to an elongated ‘Resurrection’ was never easy. We stayed on after the gig, where we met up with a crazy English girl who put us up for the night. She was very proud of the fact that she’d let Clint Boon sign her ‘tit’ when Inspirals were over. Me and Stu had a nervous sleep in her flat that night.
Off to Cologne on the train. Gig was memorable for Ian baiting the German crowd for being quiet. Unlike the the 15 strong UK touring crowd (who included the lovely Manc/ Irish girls Theresa and Eileen. ‘Standing Here’ and the guitar solo in ‘Made of Stone’ were immense, hairs on the back of neck etc. It was Cressa’s birthday, and saw him being wheeled out /passed out after the gig on a trolley after drinking a bottle of brandy.
Amsterdam is the next stop. It’s my first time there. Day off before the gig, and Stuart decided to introduce me to Amsterdam’s delights – let’s just say that by the next day I was feeling slightly yellow.
Went to the soundcheck and Stu was skinning up for Brownie. The Cess Express had arrived and the Dam was awash with Reni hatted, baggy jeaned Northerners. Backstage later, John was being grilled by a Dutch journalist, ‘why do you think that you’re the best band in the world?’ He answers, ‘I don’t know -ask him’ – he knows he points to me – brilliant. Got hold of a girl I knew, who was over from Camden – capped a good night.
7th October 1989 – Off on the train to Paris, and Stu shitting himself over having a bit of ‘puff’ left over and on him. Played him the best song off of the latest Primal Scream album – ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ve Ever Had’ – enough said. Arrived in Paris and it looked as though the whole of Madchester had descended on the red-light area Met up with Spike from Seemore Travel, who had arrived with his coaches, and got my tickets for the La Cigale gig, which was part of a French Indie Festival.
Creation band Felt were on first, then The La’s and finally The Roses. Me and Stu watched from up on the side balcony as the ‘Manchester la-la-la’ chants went up and the 1,400 crowd jostled for position.
A bit different to the 200 at Hamburg Logo, only 5 days ago! Someone had taken the CS-gas/Paris 1968 riots, hinted at in the Roses lyrics and in the album artwork ,a little too seriously and set off a CS gas canister in the middle of the set. The gig was stopped and the air cleared. We couldn’t get near the band afterwards. They were locked away with so many hangers on…Crazy end to the week, and we knew we had witnessed something special in those few days away.
A few days later, and the Ally Pally gig is announced. The word on the street is that the whole thing is going ballistic. My Camden scenester mates, who can usually blag it onto most Guest Lists, realize that this is out of control, and that we’d better buy some tickets for the upcoming dates and The Mondays at the Town and Country Club (now the Forum), followed by the following November Saturday, by the Roses at the Alexandra Palace. I went up to Ally Pally to buy the tickets on a day off, just as they went on sale. I was quietly amazed by the venue, right on top of a hill in North London. It looked very grand and MASSIVE. The girl in the Box Office was quite surprised to see me, ‘we haven’t sold many yet,’ she said – the onslaught was yet to begin.
November 1989 ‘What The World Is Waiting For’ / ‘Fools Gold’ is released THAT week with the Roses on BBC’s The Late Show. ‘Amateurs, Amateurs’ Ian berates the BBC engineers as the sound cuts out just as ‘Made of Stone’ kicks in. The presenter, Tracey MacLeod, looked shell shocked – ‘we’ll sort it out’ she says – they never did and the ‘Fools Gold’ video is shown in the programme outro. It’s classic bit of tele, much talked about the next day.
November 18th 1989, and Madchester hits London. The expectation was always going to outweigh the occasion. 7,000 Reni hats had made their way up the hill that night, and most were to be disappointed by the apalling sound. It was literally rebounding off of the back wall and colliding in the middle with a twenty second lag. By the time of an elongated ‘Fools Gold’ the band sounded as if they’d had enough, and there can’t have been that many in the 7,000 crowd who were still with them by then. ‘It’s not where you’re from mate, it’s where you’re at’ chimed Ian, after the statutory Manchester-la-la-la chants…
November 30th 1989 However showed that despite a slight derailment, the wheels weren’t going to come off that easily… Top of The Pop’s Madchester takeover! Madchester hits the mainstream – Happy Mondays perform Hallelujah’, and the Roses, Ian, in the same red top as at Ally Pally, play along to Fools Gold. Loved it when Ian, looking like a young Cliff Richard, took away the microphone from his mouth and carried on singing. Arrogance and Northern swagger epitomized People I spoke to were now convinced – they had finally seen that band that I had been going on about on the tele and thought it was very good.
All photos from Hamburg gig apart from the photo of Simon and friend and at the bottom soundcheck from Amsterdam…