The Stone Roses: The Third Coming
The Definitive Exhibition
13th June – 12th August
The Space at Whiteley’s Shopping Centre
The Space at Whiteley’s Shopping Centre
After nearly 24 hours of travel, 13 of which at 35,000 feet of joyless soul sucking boredom and more than a few experiencing the depression of Heathrow and across London underground travel – a hotel room was not going to flip the frown or ease the days of jet lag ahead, so with dragging feet I took my second trip, of the day, across London.
For the first time the collective work of Ian Tilton, Paul Slattery and Kevin Cummins photographer of The Stone Roses taken during the heady days of their rise to the top is collected together in the center of not Manchester or even a mythical Madchester but London.ÃÂ
With more than 70 images curator Dave Brolan has arranged together a photographic slice of modern day history captured by three distinctive and renowned rock journalists, between them they have shuttered some of the most iconic shots of the past thirty years, even if you could not pick them out of a line up their you will have seen, hung or worn the images they took.
There has always been the accusers claiming The Roses had the something of the ‘Emperors New Clothes’ about them, something that those that see this undefinable element as the the elusive spark, the undefinable ‘it’ that makes something so deliriously great. I don’t have a name to call it by or a physical definition but its tangible, alluring, captivating and The Stone Roses have it. Maybe it is the flaws those accusers bark on about, these are part of what makes a character, a personality giving each of us a defining uniqueness, are not the quirks, ticks and imperfection what sets the people you like apart from the people you love. If its perfection every time your after well you’ve got the CD’s: live music with it’s nuances, glitches and defects goes hand in hand with the heart pounding, passionate, mind exploding, ‘hell fucking yer’ that together sets your pants on fire.
It would not be human to be non nostalgic, to not think back to a time when I was just about a proper `yoof“, when a week without much sleep was doable and I was handed gold in the form of a C60 mix tape with a very interesting Manchester band on it, nothing was more essential than that I instantly found out more about the creators of a such delightful noise, and without out more music at the time to hunt down ~ their images were next on the agenda. These three photographers Tilton, Cummins and Slattery, these were the men that documented my passion and their names becames as much a part of being a Roses fan as was Ian, Mani, Reni, John and Cressa. This being some time before the internet, before mobile phones, before we were old enough to drive. We communicated by landlines, by post ~ we fans of music ~ we send mix tapes across the UK, we hitched to see bands, we listened through fire-doors when we couldn’t convince doormenÃÂ “Yes we are 18 – really”ÂÃÂ we bought Melody Maker, Sounds and the NME and we read cover to cover, eventually, but first we looked at the pictures and sometimes one of those could tell you more than all the words about it ever would.ÃÂ
So here I am many years from those days ~ reminiscing and recalling ~ fortunately with Ian Tilton who shares some of the special meanings and memories behind some of the pictures on view.
There is a black and white shot of the four Roses, Mani`s first photo session with the bandÃÂ “I took the photo for M62 Fanzine. I was encouraging then to put some animation, some life into the photo. John looked over at Reni and blew him a really camp kiss! Well this just cracked everyone up and I got the shot, couldn’t even see Mani`s face in my photo cos he was in a collapsed heap of stitches”Â. This feeling of comfortable friendship is always a strong element in Roses pictures whether they are shots such as the one in Tilton`s studio in Chorlton or on stage in front of thousands.ÃÂ “My photos represent the best time to be documenting the band”ÂÃÂ says Ian ~ from before ‘Mani’ to the insanity of Spike Island where heÃÂ “took the definitive shot of Ian holding the large globe of the world and licking it”ÂÃÂ and he is not wrong. Along with fellow exhibitor Kevin Cummings, they are certainly the title holders of the two most iconic shots of a hugely defining five years of my life, who on seeing Shaun Ryder on that Barcelona hotel roof with quite literally the biggest E of his life, not feel it summed up one branch of the scene at that time in the same way Tilton did with Ian, his globe and the light both electric and chemical that illuminated the Widnes air that Sunday night some 22 years ago.
It is emotional to look back remembering these events and the times we had around them, the people that are no longer with us, the future now not stretching out quite as much as it did back then, but emotion is something The Stone Roses have always elicited, from their melodies and lyrics to the swagger and sass of their characters. Ian commented on a shot that he personally feels a strong emotional attachment toÃÂ “The black & white infra red shot of the band behind the paint spattered glass”ÂÃÂ this is a stunning series of shots from 1988 and taken in a field close to Gareth Evans farm house in Cheshire.ÃÂ “It was a joint collaboration between all of us that took patience from all of us and was technically tricky to do. It’s a lovely memory for me – all of us watching John Squire create an original artwork, the first time painted glass was ever used in a Roses shoot. And my resulting photograph was everything I wanted it to be – cool, interesting, creative, beautiful”ÂÃÂ It is a very dynamic series with solo shots of each band member which seem curiously representative of the less public aspects of their personalities, on two are on show in London, John’s is perticularly interesting usually comfortably self contained he seems to be beckoning for contact his hand placed palm flat on the glass. It is definatly a theme with Tilton’s pictures a studio shot from 1988 of Mani is captivating, his eyes seem to be offering a wistful melancholy, it certainly makes for a multi-dimensional show.
Winding up in front of Ian on stage in The Big Top, it is with less sadness now and more of a smirk the flow of memories is strong: inside that plastic tomb, weakening knees as the rhythms vibrated the floor and steam creating halo like glow’s as the ceiling rained condensation. It was the last dance, not that we knew it then, and in fact not as it is now. Ian too recalls Glasgow fondlyÃÂ “I think that was the best gig I saw them play and I’m releasing loads of these photos for the first time in public. They represent great times for me because I was ‘Eed up’ having the time of my life”Â.ÃÂ For me hundreds, thousands that is what a lot of these images represent the time of their lives then, now and ”Â¦. well we will see.
It does feel a little cheeky to call it a definitive Roses exhibition when it does not include Pennie Smith, however there is a bright, gregarious yet comfortably laid back flow to the exhibition which is not damaged by the omission. The Roses music plays as you wander, a paint slattered Reni hat andÃÂ decorated speakers fill the corners of your eyes as your drawn into into daydreams.ÃÂ “I’m honored to have been accepted and trusted by the band to hang out and photograph them so many times, (fourteen sessions in total). So I’m really proud of my body of work and my contribution to making this exhibition such an amazing experience – for Roses fans and for fans of great photography.”ÂÃÂ The exhibitionÃÂ greatly represents the diverse and talented skills of three photographers and forever captures an essence of four talented and exceptional musicians who together are The Stone Roses.ÃÂ
Entrance to the exhibition is free. Opening times are limited: 12pm – 8pm weekdays 1pm – 6pm weekends. Whiteley’s Shopping Centre can be found on Queensways, W2 – A few minutes from either Bayswater (Circle and District lines) and Queensway (Central line)