For Stone Roses fans it was better late than never, probably much better than when they were playing 20-plus years ago. All four were present and accounted for…drummer Reni wearing some questionable headgear, bassist Mani looking a little worse for wear, guitarist John Squire, head bowed, hair dangling and vocalist Ian Brown, he of mighty cheek bones and attitude to match.
I would bet that, five years ago, most of the fans at the nearly-full Vector Arena would have thought it almost impossible that they would be witnessing a show with all four members of The Stone Roses, but miracles do happen. That said, this was as much a celebration as a concert. Sure it a nostalgia-fest, but it served to remind one what music is all about…the power to transport the listener back in time, to be able to re-create a time and a place that is long gone, to become transcendent. And that’s what The Stone Roses were tonight.
At 9:15 the lights went down and the PA played The Supremes’ 1970 hit, Stoned Love. Then the band took the stage and Mani’s rumbling bass got things going with I Wanna Be Adored, the first track from their near-legendary first album.
And adored they were.
Ian Brown may not be the world’s best singer, but he knows how to command a stage. He raised his arms over his head in triumph as the song ended and the crowd roared.
For those wanting to get a closer look, there were three large high-definition video screens above the stage. The picture quality was awesome. The lighting was also impressive…not too showy, but it definitely enhanced the mood.
The set was heavy with tunes from that first album…eight of the 15 songs played, with only two from Second Coming. The rest were early singles and B-sides. And when you have B-sides as good as Something’s Burning and Where Angels Play, why not play them?
Once he got warmed up, Reni was a monster on the drums, sounding at times like The Who’s Keith Moon. Mani’s throbbing bass got the body moving but it was Squire’s guitar playing that really made the evening special. His solo on Where Angels Play was powerful and melodic. By the time they got to Shoot You Down the band was jamming furiously, stretching out the psychedelic funk-rocker to the delight of the crowd. Squire whipped out another killer solo, throwing in The Beatles’ Daytripper riff for fun.
Things came to a crashing halt at the beginning of Waterfall, when Brown stopped the band, not once, but twice, before getting it right. “It’s OK”, he reassured the crowd, who may have thought they were witnessing a classic Stone Roses meltdown, “We don’t play to tapes”. Sure enough, take three proved to be a keeper, with Squire big slashing power chords taking the band to new heights.
There was plenty of opportunity for some good old fashioned fist-pumping during Made Of Stone and Brown showed off a few dance moves after This Is The One.
The energy level rose even higher as they launched into the Led Zep-like Love Spreads and then sealed the deal with the one-two punch of She Bangs The Drum and I Am The Resurrection which gave the band one last chance to jam.
There was no encore…there was no need, just the sounds of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song as the spent crowd filed out. And yes, you could say The Stone Roses had indeed redeemed themselves after being away for so many years.
Check out this gallery of Stone Roses concert pix, taken by ace photographer Michael Flynn:
The Stone Roses set list:
- I Wanna Be Adored
- Mersey Paradise
- (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
- Sally Cinnamon
- Ten Storey Love Song
- Where Angels Play
- Shoot You Down
- Fools Gold
- Something’s Burning
- Made Of Stone
- This Is The One
- Love Spreads
- She Bangs The Drums
- I Am The Resurrection