The return to the site of their legendary June 9th 1990 gig is a nod to their widely recognized best ever gig with of the band’s original phase and the last gig that Reni played with them till last year’s reformation.
We had been to many of the Roses gigs in the past few years and a trip to Glasgow seemed perfect. So on that day in 1990, we left early to get to the gig, cramming ourselves into photographer Ian Tilton’s car for the long drive up to Glasgow.
At the time there was no idea that this would be the last gig with Reni on drums, infact it seemed like the start of a positive new phase for the band who had been almost knocked over by their sudden rise to the top after years of bedsit song writing.
In that time there was no ready made system for bands to go through, no recognized circuit of gigs, as you stepped up from the toilet circuit to the top. There were hardly any festivals and bands simply didn’t put on their own big gigs. The Stone Roses were pioneers for a system that still exists to this day. Then you headlined Reading Festival and that was the peak. The Roses were not playing the game and were working outside a system that barely worked, now every band takes their root.
The classic gigs of Blackpool, Ally Pally and Spike Island had sign posted their rise and if some of the gigs had not been perfect it was because it was the wild west out there. No band had ever self promoted a gig of the scale of Spike Island and when they walked off stage that night at Spike Island it was a case of where next. They had everything laid out at their feet. A boring career band would have cleaned up at this point but the Roses were never boring.
I bumped into manager Gareth Evans on the train to London at the time and told him to hold out for Madison Square Gardens as the debut American show, those were heady days and anything seemed possible. I didn’t know he would take my quip as policy! I figured if it had worked for the Beatles so why not the Roses! in those months they seemed like they were going to take the world, everything was in place.
It seemed like they would go the the studio and make that second album of superjam grooves- the Fools Gold meets Can psych jams and take their music to another planet. That was the talk.
A month after Spike Island it was the big top tent gigs. The original idea was mooted as an on going tour idea but ended up being Belfast and Glasgow. Radiohead later copped the idea for their own Big Top tour a few years later as well as booking John Leckie to produce their music- the Roses influence was everywhere.
The first gig in Belfast was tricker to get to in those days before cheap planes, so we opted for Glasgow and there we were in the car speeding up in motorway, off to review the Roses for Sounds- it was just like old days.
We got to Glasgow Green early and the park was already packed, the tent held 7000 people and it’s hard to imagine where they put it now, I went back to Glasgow Green a few months ago and went Ina run through it and the park was far smaller than I remembered!
There were a lot of drunk mad heads there and brilliant Glasgow music fanatics, the Scottish city was always a big supporter of Manchester bands, a feeling reciprocated in Manchester where Glasgow bands have always been well supported. Everyone was in flares and brand new Roses T shirts and it hit us how young the audience looked.
This really was the spotty youth, the kids from the schemes, the kind of kids who get given nothing. This was the audience that the Stone Roses music was perfect for, with it’s great melodies and powerful uplifting, empowering music that made kids dream and feel ten feet tall in their tough lives. God knows what a lot of the youth were on that day but they looked like they were high on life as they poured into the tent.
There were lots of Roses regulars there like Eileen and the girls who had been following them from the start and were still into the band despite being swamped by a whole new generation of fans. Normally it’s at this stage that the old fans drift away but the Roses had got massive and retained their aura which is always tough to do in rock n roll. We pondered on what the band’s next move would be. It seemed so open ended then and their position in pop culture was already really established with many young bands coming through already copying their style and sound.
When the band played that day I remember how packed and steaming hot that tent was. Tents hold in the heat and condensation but no tent could have sweated on a scale like this before. The whole place was jumping. I Wanna Be Adored was drowned out with thousands of young voices and you felt like you were in the centre of a thrilling youth quake.
Glasgow audiences can be the best in the world and on that night they were justifying this claim. The tent was literally sweating, as the heat from the floor mingled with drops of water falling off the roof as the condensation turned to water. It was hot, murky and swampy and thrilling. Pure rock n roll.
The band had cranked a gear. They were intuitive and tight and as Adored rumbled to an end the euphoria in the place was like sonic ectoplasm! Elephant Stone sounded enormous, I’m not sure if it was the acoustics of the tent, the far more powerful PA than their other big gigs or an added crunk to the band’s sound but they combined an almost Sex Pistols wall of sound guitar with a window pane psych and the song sounded massive.
It was a theme that ran through the gig. Shoot You Down was sinister and sinewy and upcoming new single One Love, due to be released a few weeks later sounded far bigger than the eventual single. It’s the one song that no one is very sure about in the Roses world but those verse sections are sublime, and that night the band nailed that loose limbed shuffle beat perfectly. Everyone felt that One Love was the hint of the new direction, the first clue to the second album that must have been due soon.
Made Of Stone was enormous. This was Pistols power chords and that ultimate anthemic chorus – the Roses never sounded better until they came back last year where the topped even this amazing show.
Fools Gold was starting to work really well live and Resurrection was anthemic- it felt like it could go on forever and it probably did in some of the fried minds.
Post show we slipped backstage to say hello to the band who were ensconced in a small caravan looking drained. The dressing room was silent but silent because there was nothing left to say. A post gig silence can be because of tension or just the euphoria of playing a great show, this time it was definitely the later. You could sense the band was going to take the world, they could sense it as well and the gig had been a triumph- what’s left to say? It still seems difficult surprising that this was Reni’s last gig until the comeback or that the band would disappear for years in a maze of courts and aborted recording sessions.
That night the Roses were top of the world, a big top top of the world
1.I Wanna Be Adored.
3.She Bangs The Drums.
4.Shoot You Down.
7.Sugar Spun Sister.
9.Fools Gold / Where Angels Play.
10.Waterfall. (Fades Out)
11.Made Of Stone.
12.Elizabeth My Dear / I Am The Resurrection.