The Stone Roses live at Heaton Park – June 29, 2012
|July 5, 2012||Posted by Jeremy Dobson under culture, reviews|
Does this mean we can do away with those mediocre tribute acts? The return of The Stone Roses at the overcast Heaton Park didn’t evoke all that much nostalgia, as one might have expected, but rather induced sheer euphoria from the moment Mani eased himself into the slow burning bass line of I Wanna Be Adored. It was less of a “resurrection” and more as though they had awoken from a coma; they wanted to make up for lost time.
If you wanted to critique this reunion as you would a normal gig then you might complain that they packed most of their major hits into the back half of the show. But you’d miss the point – this isn’t a normal gig. The band valued each song tremendously and indiscriminately, every one being a fragment of a hindered but superb 13 years together. Almost everyone knew every word; they’ve had 16 years to memorise them after all.
The Stone Roses’ crowd so adored the band that few of Ian Brown’s lyrics slipped by unchanted. One could expect this of the crescendos of This is the One or Made of Stone, but the Roses even transformed elegant album tracks such as Shoot You Down and (Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister into demi-anthems.
The single potential weakness was always Ian Brown’s voice. It has deteriorated, although it’s just never been particularly strong live anyway. In fairness, however, Brown remained mostly in tune even when singing the lilting choruses of Ten Story Love Song (perhaps with a somewhat gruffer intonation). But then again, who cares? Brown the singer comes second to Brown the performer, as vindicated by his freestyle rapping amidst the bluesy rotations of Love Spreads.
Curiously, he spoke little between songs, although he did have time to make some acute observations: “Looking out, I can see we still got the best looking girls… innit.” Eloquent as ever – best you stay a man of few words, Mr Brown. Conversely, the one-minute Elizabeth My Dear was preceded by some pleasingly scathing words about the monarch: “This song’s dedicated to those parasites down the road … Celebrating 60 years of tyranny!” I guess this was Madchester’s turn for a jubilee.
Ian Brown is just one of the talented egos in The Stone Roses. John Squire, though solemn and silent in his “stage presence,” was nevertheless impeccable as his guitar solos layered on top of Mani and Reni’s circular rhythms, in songs such as She Bangs The Drums, similar to how his Pollock-inspired artwork complimented the original LPs and singles – the very aesthetic that infused the impressive lighting and graphics and as such illuminated the local acres of Heaton Park.
Fools Gold also showcased the record-perfect precision with which The Stone Roses play – I’m sure they didn’t used to be this tight. The song, at 10 minutes long, is hypnotic and enveloping, especially when offset by the fans’ flares lighting the sunset sky, a moment that helped transcend the night into the domain of the truly remarkable.
A fitting coda for The Stone Roses was psychedelic symphony I Am the Resurrection, John Squire once again affirming he is the greatest British guitarist from the 80s. Indeed, it was a fitting coda for those who rushed to beat the traffic. But after the hugs and bows, fireworks followed. Even a casual fan (never mind a blind devotee) couldn’t help but feel a pang of sentimentality as a mature Stone Roses delivered on the success that couldn’t sustain itself in the mid-90s.