The Stone Roses at Finsbury Park, Friday 7th June – EXCLUSIVE FIRST REVIEW

Stone Roses
Finbury Park, London
Friday 7th June

Motown classic ‘Stoned Love’ reverberates around the blazingly sunlit Finsbury Park as the bursting at the seams audience gives an applause as reverent as it is rapturous. Barely missing a beat from the end of the intro song to the first rumbling bass notes of ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ – the rushing crescendo of a song that would open their seminal 1989 album – the four figures on stage that, since October 2011, are once again the Stone Roses become instantly immersed in something far away from the adulation and roaring of the crowd. The entity that is the Stone Roses – an energy somewhat greater than the sum of its parts – is instantly omnipresent in all its magic and mystery tonight. Naturally, the London audience – many of which still seeing the Stone Roses for the first time – see tonight as nothing less than a celebration; even the fact Reni walked onstage holding above his head a t-shirt emblazoned with ‘Who the fuck is Liam Gallagher?’ – perhaps a nod to the band’s recently publicised cutting of ties with the Beady Eye frontman – was received with a playful cheer.

Over a year since their first reunion shows – affairs of upmost celebration but not without some turbulence – the band have begun playing around with the set. The oft-regurgitated derisions that the Stone Roses were something of a one trick pony with only a shallow back catalogue are quite rightly proven redundant tonight by a band that can miss out big classics that would be the cornerstones of lesser bands’ sets – ‘Sally Cinnamon’ in particular – yet can introduce b-sides and album tracks to only adulation. The shimmering jangle of ‘Elephant Stone’ is a delight; capturing not only the spirit of its original incarnation but much of the technicalities and intricacies that make it. Similarly, ‘Going Down’ maintains all of its original flavour but more groove orientated, dictated by Reni’s endlessly compulsive drumming. ‘Breaking Into Heaven’, however, is the addition that shines most tonight. A song from their 1994 sophomore record ‘The Second Coming’, ‘Breaking Into Heaven’ tonight is freed from the shackles of guilt-by-association to blossom into the furious Led Zeppelin stomp that was perhaps shackled by overproduction on record. Ian Brown’s rasping vocal penetrating a thick wall of guitars is a whole world away from the grooves and jangly psychedelia off their first record and suits the maturity of the band that the ‘in-between years’ have provided. Naturally skilled at the front of a stage, Brown knows when to send himself forward from the band and when to let the rhythm section and Squire’s guitars take centre stage. Characteristically Brown is a man of little words onstage, though tonight one noticeable pronouncement is his nod to the popular conspiracy theory of chemtrails.

The mid-set airing of ‘Fools Gold’ is when tonight really gets into its own; the ever expanding jam that now serves as almost the centrepiece to ‘Fools Gold’ has all the dynamism and build-up that pulsates through the best dance music, and this is precisely what ‘Fools Gold’ is. Indeed, much of the set is punctuated by well-honed jams between the band, perhaps a nod to the new material recently promised by the band. Ian Brown appears in as much thrall to John Squire’s guitarwork as the audience; with any rust gained in the years where he was more likely to pick up a paintbrush than a Les Paul now firmly shaken.  As the Eastern flavours brimming from a unifying ‘Ten Storey Love Song’ prove, Squire’s versatility is crucial to his effectiveness as a guitarist; flitting seamlessly from the glistening arpeggiation at the start of ‘This is The One’ to the its roaring, grandiose climax – scenes of intense celebration illuminated by the presence of screaming red flares held aloft into the sky.

Shane Meadows’ newly released Stone Roses documentary ‘Made of Stone’ goes some way to explaining the rapture that greets each song tonight – the devotion inspired by this brooding enigma of a band that is wholly justifiable on nights like tonight. In the same way Meadows’ film re-evaluates and reclaims the band, the band have let the songs grow and take new shapes over the last year. Lesser acts would shirk at the thought of changing something like the drum intro to ‘I Am the Resurrection’, something seemingly so shiftless and perfect, yet Reni’s new groove tonight is as perfectly judged as it is exciting. As ‘I Am the Resurrection’ towers from blissfully melodic Revolver pop to something of an acid house frenzy, it’s clear just how much of a triumph tonight – and indeed the reunion itself- is. Now on their second lap of the reunion tour, the focus shifts inevitably to where next for the Stone Roses; perhaps within tonight’s set is already buried hints of varying degrees of subtlety, but nobody knows how to throw an audience quite like the Stone Roses, and in that is their beauty.

Set List:

I Wanna Be Adored
Elephant Stone
Ten Storey Love Song
Standing Here
Going Down
Shoot You Down
Something’s Burning
Don’t Stop
She Bangs the Drums
Love Spreads
This is the One
Made of Stone
Breaking Into Heaven
Elizabeth My Dear
I Am the Resurrection

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  1. Are you serious? This gushing review of the Stone Roses’ performance last night is absolute rubbish: Ian Brown was so out of tune it hurt; Squires was good but the backstage sound technicians didn’t seem able to get the balance right so we could actually hear him; the bassist was clearly playing another gig; and the drummer rocked. As a collective though, they were awful. I love people getting all nostalgic about seeing a band reform but if you believe what this person has written, you are sadly mistaken. They weren’t even average last night, they were atrocious.

    Waterfall is my favourite song by The Stone Roses and, whilst they started relatively strongly, it soon descended into chaos with the bass far too prominent and everyone else drowned out by Brown’s wailing. Tragic……and I drove 300 miles to see them and 300 miles back.

    • Presume Fergal was near the front. Gigs of this size differ greatly depending where you are stood. And especially when you’re a cunt.

    • I was there and completely agree with Distinctly interested. Fergal must be on the band’s payroll! Lol. I love the Stone Roses’ albums, have always heard Ian Brown can’t carry a tune live, but was still hopeful. The sound was awful and Ian completely butchered I am the Resurrection, and others. Much of the crowd simply sings over Ian, which is probably why the band is able to continue to play live at all. Still, managed a few nostalgic dances, the highlight for me being She bangs the drum and Love spreads back to back.

  2. Moments of wonder when you heard the beginning of a huge track played by the guys that created it, but in reality they lacked a spark and the sound was patchy. It’s a shame – they were good but could have been amazing. Reviewer needs to remove the rose-tinted specs.

  3. i traveled from the N/E of England to see the band & i wasn’t disappointed one bit,Remi as always proved how good he is,Mani was also very good,Squire really impressed me with his different techniques all night on varying songs & the biggest surprise to me was Ian Brown we all know he has an average voice at best but last night he never tried to hit notes he couldn’t ever reach,he was very controlled & as a result never sang out of tune to me he’s obviously been taught how to breath & get the best out of his limited vocal range.The crowd responded to a very good show by being a very good & sometimes euphoric crowd.I can only think the negative reviews before mine were made by people who don’t know how to get involved & enjoy a great occasion.I’ve been to see RHCP, Coldplay,KOL & Springstein in the past 12 months all fantastic live bands but The Stone Roses have something different i haven’t got a clue what it is but its special.

    • So I FLEW to London from Toronto to see the roses with my wife. I was there as well last year at heaton park. And had an amazing time and wanted to share that experience wife. The crowd at Finsbury seemed younger and really less interested in the music. I was disappointed in the crowd but as we all know Ian Browns vocals are not the reason we all live the roses. Loved the vibe of heaton park.

  4. They’re the best band in the world, ever, but this guy’s review is totally inaccurate. I’ve seen Ian Brown four or five times solo and last year with The Roses (which was amazing) but after last night I wouldn’t go to another of their gigs. Off key, out of tune, out of time on Made of Stone, and the gig just lacked something. I don’t know what. Oomph I think. There were plenty of people around me thinking the same thing. I will always love them but if last night is how it’s going to be then it’s not working. Sorry boys. The sound was terrible, and this isn’t down to them, In fact, I felt bad for them as it never really ‘took off’, it was just too quiet. I wondered if maybe Ian Brown couldn’t hear himself and that there was a technical hitch, hence the seriously dodgy vocals. We all know he’s not the strongest but he is usually a million times better than last night.

  5. Reflecting on the comments of the reciewer and those above, I can only say that it appears that the sound was different depending on where you were in the audience. We were stood on towards the back and the sound was excellent throughout. Reni and Mani proved to be as terrific as ever and Squire’s guitar playing was superb. Highlights included Reni’s extended drum intro to Resurrection and Love Spreads morphing into a groove classic while still retaining its Led Zep charm. Unfortunately Ian’s vocals were hit and miss. Particularly serious let downs were Dont Stop and I Am The Resurrection. Fortunately the audience helped him out and thus the evening was saved. Still…Dizzee Rascal??????

  6. I agreed that the sound was pathy compated to the earlier bands when the sound quality seemed much better. As for the gig itself, I realy did enjoy the show and everyone singing along to the tracks was fantastic. Maybe the guys who gave negitive feedback were looking from a musical purist point of view instead of just enjoying the show and the crowd experience because lets be honest, if you want musical perfection just sit in your living room in front of some expensive hi-fi and speakers and listen to the CD because a live show cannot compete with that, but thats not what last night was about. Bobby is right, it was something special.

  7. I enjoyed last night. Was a great crowd and were really up for it. Thought the sound was okay for an outdoor gig. The band played well and was a good mix of songs. But I have to say that anyone who thought that Ian Brown sang in tune must have drank too much Koolaid. It’s a good job the band don’t rely on his voice as it was terrible, truly cringeworthy, but the crowd singing away masked the worst of it. Any bootleg recording will seriously show him up. Anyway, good luck to them, Finsbury Park is a great place to hold a gig and hope there will be more to come.

  8. It was fantastic to see the lads again, and the recent re-additions more than made up for the lack of Reni’s backing vocals in the sound mix (right of sound desk at least).
    Loved Made if Stone , This is The One, and Ressurection tonight!

  9. Had a great time at the gig last night, yes Ian’s vocals were dodgy as hell but I didn’t go to see someone if The Voice showing their range by warbelling through a song, really enjoyed it.

  10. I thought they were amazing – 11/10. All four band members were on form and the magic is still there. The highlight for me was Breaking Into Heaven as it was unexpected. I wanted to go again on the Saturday, but by mate had to get home ! Cannot wait to see them again – band of my generation

    • we having been nagging at them to play breaking into heaven- one of their great songs and proof that the second coming is a briliant album

  11. I was there on Saturday and yes Ian sang out of tune a bit. Were aware of his vocal limitations, and the sound was blown around by a slightly under-par for the event PA system.. What really marred the event was the apparent high number of phone thefts, and the little fights that broke out in the crowd because of this. Sad to have waited twenty years to see them, to be surrounded by professional pickpockets..

  12. I am not a musical purist – but Ian Brown was woeful. You can’t charge £60 a ticket and then not sing remotely in tune. I think they had Autotune in the rack and I am sure I heard the point in ‘Waterfall’ where the poor bugger working it gave up and switched it off. I had a great day out and I’ve ticked another ‘must see’ band off my list – but I won’t be repeating the experience.

  13. I honestly didn’t notice Ian Brown’s vocals being off-key. The less than perfect PA system combined with the enthusiastic crowd sing along meant you could.t tell one way or the other. Brilliantly memorable gig though


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