The Stone Roses | Heaton Park | Manchester

The Stone Roses

Venue: Heaton Park, Manchester
Date: 29th June 2012

18th October 2011 was the day that many people never thought would happen, Brown, Squire, Mani and Reni all in the same room together announcing that The Stone Roses were getting back together. The press conference saw the band announcing that they would be returning to the live arena during summer 2012, including massive homecoming shows at Manchester’s Heaton Park.

When the tickets went on sale the first two shows sold out within 14 minutes. To put that into perspective that is the whole of Glastonbury Festival being sold out for one band in less than quarter of an hour. Then a third date was announced which sold out in 44 minutes. Any doubts as to whether The Stone Roses still mattered completely vanished. The last few years have seen many bands re-uniting, but the return of The Stone Roses really was the one the world was waiting for.

Walking through Manchester on the Friday morning there was a real air of excitement and anticipation throughout the city. Record stores were playing The Roses, fans donned in Pretty Green, Fred Perry and ‘Reni hats’ were swaggering around the city like it was the early 90’s. It was as though we’d taken a step back in time to an age many of us have refused to leave. The trams on the way to Heaton Park were full of people talking about the gig, even the commuters not going to the gig could not help but get caught up in the excitement.

The band had personally chosen the support acts for the shows, and as we arrive we catch the end of Kid British a young Manchester band who combine soul and rock effectively enough to hold our attention. The Vaccines quite often divide opinion amongst music critics (including us here at AMP HQ), but you can say what you want about this band, they certainly know how to put together damn good guitar pop songs. They prove during this set they can make the step up to the big stage and will continue to ensure that the charts are represented by guitar music. The Wailers were the only band asked to play all three nights. They worked there way through a set of sing along Bob Marley classics that no doubt presuaded the rain to stay away. Primal Scream played a very energetic and memorable set, Bobby Gillespie is a frontman who gets better with age, I have not seen the band as energised as this for quite some time. Opening with a ten minute new song that completely blew us away, they then worked their way through a greatest hits set that included ‘Loaded’, ‘Movin’ On Up’, ‘Rocks’, ‘Country Girl’, ‘Swastika Eyes’ and ‘Jailbird’ showcasing that Primal Scream are another band who we simply could not live without.

As Primal Scream left the stage the anticipation continued to grow, this really was one of those days that you will never forget. 70,000 people in a field all there for the same reason to witness the homecoming of the greatest band of their generation. The band that without whom there would have been no Oasis and of course no Britpop.

The moment arrived, Ian, John, Mani, and Reni appeared on stage to a thunderous applause. The band take one look at the adoring crowd and from this moment on nothing could go wrong.

Mani kicks things off with that unmistakable bassline that opens ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ and the entire crowd gets lost in the moment. As soon as Ian Brown sings “I don’t have to sell my soul, he’s already in me” everyone of the 70,000 in the park sings back at the top of their voices and it really is one of the most beautiful things ever. Looking at Ian on stage he still has everything that is needed to be the frontman of this generation, with his jeans, trainers and leather jacket this is a man who stands head and shoulders above the rest, as he swaggers around the stage he looks as comfortable and as confident as ever. As music fans we need frontmen to be living the life that we can only dream of, and that is exactly what Ian Brown does, whilst making it look like the most natural thing in the world.

‘Mersey Paradise’ and ‘Sugar Spun Sister’ follow with the crowd continuing to sing along to every word. ‘Sally Cinnamon’ provides another spine tingling moment, and is simply one of the greatest songs every written. As far as setlists go you really couldn’t ask for more, with every song from the greatest debut album ever being played and sounding as important and fresh as the day they were written. Hearing these songs now it really is hard to believe that they are 23 years old. These are songs that have more than stood the test of time. ‘Ten Storey Love Song’ provides another beautiful and memorable moment. ‘Love Spreads’ is the only other song that gets an airing from the often overlooked ‘Second Coming’.

From start to finish this gig was one big highlight, although seeing 140,000 arms aloft in the air and 70,000 people singing as one during ‘This Is The One‘ will stay with me for the rest of my life. Everyone around me seemed to be drifting off to a magical and special place, forgetting everything else that may be going on in the world; the true beauty of the live experience. Throughout this entire song shivers were going through my entire body, this was a moment I did not want to end.

The set came to an end with ‘She Bangs The Drums’ ‘Elizabeth My Dear’ and ‘I Am The Resurrection’, with the band sticking to their own rule of no encores and when you have songs as great as this there really isn't a need for one. The band take to the front of the stage, share a hug, face the audience and know they have pulled off the greatest comeback ever. As the fireworks scar the blackened Manchester sky and Redemption song plays out we smugly exit Heaton Park.

So what now for The Stone Roses, there has been talk of new material and an album deal has been signed. Seeing the chemistry the band still have together on stage it’s impossible to think that they will not continue to write new songs and continue to tour. ‘She Bangs The Drums’ sees the band sing "The past was yours but the futures mine", and after tonight that sounds accurate once again.

Steve Tay

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