Tue 10 Jul 2012

Review… The Stone Roses at Heaton Park 2012



It was on 18th October, when The Stone Roses’ original line-up came together to announce that they would be performing once again, and set to play Manchester’s Heaton Park over a weekend in June/July. Well…it’s July. The gigs are finished, and the rest of their world tour is in progress. Gigs and Tours looks back on the heroic return of Ian, Man, Reni and John…
From the minute the band announced the shows, the country went into Roses hysteria, with a demand for ticket never seen before. All 3 nights sold out in 68 minutes – the fastest selling rock shows in UK history.
Apart from a small number of warm up shows in Europe, all focus was on Heaton Park. That was until the band surprised fans by announcing a free and intimate gig at Warrington’s Parr Hall on May 23rd. Announced on the day, all fans had to do to gain entry was to bring along a piece of Stone Roses memorabilia. Twitter was flooded with reports of excited fans that dropped everything to see the band’s first full performance in 16 years, and the first set with all four original members since 1990. The audience were treated to a 11 song set, with guests such as Liam Gallagher tweeting “The Stone Roses are back!”  However, the band did not play their huge hit “I Am the Resurrection”, which the band were clearly saving for the colossal homecoming shows a month later.
As Friday 29th June loomed, so did the anticipation of what was set to be the biggest shows of 2012. It was near impossible to walk down any street in Manchester without overhearing someone talking about the shows. As the day arrived, so did the clouds, which threatened to rain all day, but a mix of the park ground being in perfect condition, and extensive measures by the promoters to protect the ground, nothing was going to ruin this weekend.
The day was opened by Kid British, who signified the beginning of 3 days of quality line-ups. Next up were NME favourites and future headliners The Vaccines, who blew everyone away with anthems from their debut album. The early evening was made a little lighter, with the first of three sets from The Wailers, who were personally invited to play all three nights by Ian Brown. Playing hits such as ‘One Love’ and ‘I shot the Sheriff’, their music acted as the best mood setter for tonight’s first show and for the main support; Primal Scream.
Bobby Gillespie appeared in all black, and was ready to explode into a fifty minute set including new and classic material. Highlights included ‘Swastika Eyes’, ‘Movin’ On Up’ and ‘Country Girl’. There was clearly shared excitement between Primal Scream and the audience of how close everyone was to one of the most historic moments for The Stone Roses and Manchester’s music heritage.
And then finally… This is the one…
The Stone Roses walked onto the stage overflowing with energy. As Mani leads the band on, he roared with excitement and clenched his fists like he’d just scored the winning penalty for England (we can only dream!). The band then stormed through a celebrated and influential back catalogue of songs. There was something truly special about the trust between each member of the band, who individually are masters of their instruments, but come together like an unstoppable force.  As the night continued, so did the enjoyment from the seventy thousand strong audience, who never gave their lungs a break from singing along at the top of their voices. The only pauses between singing their hearts out came when John, Mani and Reni showed off how well they can extend songs into ten minute gems of instrumental power. The principle of this being an incredible performance of ‘Fool’s Gold’ which nobody wanted to end. However, probably the biggest highlight was the reaction to Reni’s drum intro to ‘I Am the Resurrection’, which led to a thunderous cheer that would have woken up the soundest of sleepers on the other side of the country. The band had triumphed – silencing the doubters, winning over all critics and overwhelming the fans who never thought they would see it happen again.
As the band walked off, with no expectations of an encore (as is tradition at their shows), fans began their walk towards the coach and pick up points to the soundtrack of ‘Redemption Song’ by Bob Marley. Just as all thought the night was over, the sky was set ablaze with fireworks. No matter where you went, the atmosphere was unbeatable.
AND THAT WAS JUST FRIDAY! Here’s what some of our other Gigsandtours bloggers thought about the
Saturday’s show:
The resurrection of the Stone Roses. A day that both band and fans alike swore would never arrive. Yet on Friday 29th June I found myself stood amongst 75,000 people in the middle of Heaton Park, eagerly anticipating the moment that Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni would walk onto the stage as one and reclaim their title as the best and most legendary band to come out of Manchester. You could feel the excitement build up in the crowd as the minutes drew closer to ten past nine. And then it happened. The foursome walked out to rapturous applause as the low rumble of bass of ‘I wanna be adored’ swept through the crowd. Any doubters were silenced as a very Mancunian sounding crowd lent their lungs to Ian and screamed every word in unison with their idol. ‘Mersey Paradise’, ‘(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister’ and the anthemic  ‘Sally Cinnamon’ swiftly followed, along with tears of joy from the crowd as the moment we had waited for for 16 years played out in front of us. Personal highlights? ‘Ten Storey Love Song’ sounded as beautiful as ever, the ten minute long ‘Fools Gold’ made the crowd erupt, and watching every man, woman and child there dance along to ‘Waterfall’ from the view of my friends shoulders was spine tingling. Ian Brown owned the stage like he’d never left, John Squire was in his absolute element, Reni cemented his status as one of the best drummers of our generation, and the controversial but brilliant Mani didn’t play a note out of place. Ian summoned it up perfectly as they left the stage. “We’re back”.
Sunday’s show:
The excitement in the air is more than palpable as the hordes await the arrival of The Stone Roses. Some have waited two decades for this moment and as the anticipation rises, the last minutes before their arrival seem achingly long. The first bars of the infamous “I Wanna Be Adored” ring out and send literally, hundreds of thousands into a sea of happily flailing arms and beaming faces. The wait is finally over.
Despite the never ending crowds, it was easy for everyone to share in the experience with the gargantuan selection of video screens onstage making an intimate affair of the massive space. Ian Brown makes good of his wide spread exposure, taking full control of the never ending audience. It seems utterly ironic that Ian Brown is onstage begging to be adored when he has the entirety of Heaton park hanging on his every gesture.
Brown continues through the set as he conducts and patrols the stage with a rock-solid confidence and assurance, a reassuring sign of how tight the once estranged foursome have become again. This closeness is audible too with the drums providing the driving force behind each track, tightening all the edges.
John Squire’s playing is seamless with the bass providing a strong structure for Brown’s occasionally watery vocals with Reni’s drumming expertly tying the package together. The years don’t seem to have taken their toll on the band at all, if anything their material has re-gained a new freshness, sounding all the more relevant the second time around.
All the hits make a welcome return to the set list with “Fool’s Gold” sending every punter’s pint into the air as the audience sing-a-long continued. “Sally Cinnamon” was particularly special as the guitar trickled down on the audience just as the sun was beginning to set. If the stunning production and impeccable sound weren’t enough, the fireworks display at the close of the set was the final cherry on top of a phenomenal return.
These shows have already cemented the Roses into the musical heritage of Britain but they also seem to signify a new path for the future. With over 200,000 tickets selling in just 68 minutes, there’s no shortage of fans of all ages and maybe now, years after their début, the Stone Roses can finally have the reception they so defiantly deserve.