Wednesday the 15th of June, 2016. The third coming. Ian Brown, Gary ‘Mani’ Mounfield, Jon Squire and Alan ‘Reni’ Wren, the four swaggering blokes behind one of the most famous English bands of all-time: The Stone Roses. They were supported by Public Enemy, as I watched from my vantage point on the beer-soaked boards covering the pitch at the Etihad Stadium. The iconic lemon and Jackson Pollock paint splatters zoomed onto the massive screen that sandwiched the stage, then came in the slow-burning throb of Mani’s bass. ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ jolted the crowd into action as the kings of Manchester indie guitar jangling roared into action. The confident showmanship of Ian Brown for all to see as he sang about not having to sell his soul.
The seminal debut album, self-titled, has become a classic and iconic collection of songs since its release in 1989. The poppy and zippy ‘Sally Cinnamon’ was part of the setlist as the band trotted out their earliest material, ‘Mersey Paradise’ and ‘Waterfall’ also followed. The fist pumping chorus of ‘All For One’ was observed by the swaying, braying mass of fans, arms aloft, flares lit, beer bottles flying around.
And then came ‘Love Spreads’, a song from their second album. The more riff-based, musically muscular Second Coming was released in 1994 to mixed receptions, but the meaty fretwork of Squire bouncing around the massive Manchester stadium and into the drizzly night sky was fantastic. The crowd bounced and sang and cheered and adorned their bucket hats in homage to the drummer, Reni.
As the rain began to pour during ‘Waterfall’, the atmosphere refused to let itself fizzle out like a wet firework, and the anthemic ‘She Bangs The Drums’ brought yet more zip, zonk and zap to the thumping spectators. “The past was yours, but the future’s mine,” sang Brown, as his Mancunian magic caused the heavens to open just as the fateful words “you’re all out of time” exited his mouth into the smoky breath of the night.
A few more songs from Second Coming kept the mood going and the lengthy yet funky jam of ‘Fools Gold’ beat the sodden support into a foaming frenzy as its distinctive melody cranked up the notches. They made the right noises. They made the right moves. They made the right song choices.
The best was, as usual, saved until last, as the legendary and arrogant proclamation by Brown of “I am the resurrection” exploded through the film of silvery rain. The crowd jumped, the ground rocked, the frontman shook his tambourines to the delight of the delirious, gurning crowd of adoring fans. I have barely ever witnessed such awe like I saw in the faces of those around me, not caring about the North West rain pouring itself down the necks of everyone in the standing section. They love Ian Brown. He loves them. He is the resurrection.
One of the great bands has been ticked off the list. Having now seen Arctic Monkeys and the Roses, I feel blessed.
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