The Stone Roses at the Etihad Stadium
Bucket hats, flares and a solid line-up as audience numbers started to outweigh that of a Manchester City home game can only mean one thing, yep, Greg Dixon reviews The Stone Roses show; photos by Cai Dixon.
With Manchester sporting enough bucket hats to resemble a game of battle ships from the right height, we were thrown back into a past time. Care free attitudes, lemon posters and a wagon full of trench coats rained into the Etihad Stadium for a night of nostalgia fuelled noise from one of Manchester’s most influential, controversial and seemingly immortal bands. In case you hadn’t heard... The Stone Roses were back for a string of gigs at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, and I was lucky enough to catch their second night, supported by Buzzcocks, The Coral and weirdly enough, Public Enemy.
Now, I’ll have to admit, I thought All For One was all in all a little bit shit. Beautiful Things was a promising improvement, but after a few videos, previous reviews and the whole mid-set break up routine in previous years, there was a part of me that was a little apprehensive going into the show. That is to say, when we got in to the show. After about an hour doing laps trying to find the right entrance, and looking disgustedly at £6 burgers, I took a seat just right of the stage to watch time travelling punk pioneers Buzzcocks take the stage
After 40 years of playing together and even getting that show on BBC with their name in it... Buzzcocks have left a slight mark on the culture around them. After taking seat mid-way through Boredom, I realised sitting down was pointless. Even half of the crowd that were already in the standing area, most seemingly oblivious to who the group were until Ever Fallen In Love blasted out erupting a small explosion of movement from a growing crowd, all slowly travelling over from the ‘beer people’ and their magical backpacks. The band sounded exactly like the records, if nothing else a little bit more raw. Barely a word was spoken between songs. But the solidity of the set overshadowed... who needs words at 6 in the afternoon anyway? It was incredibly promising. Hopefully I’ll be catching them in October at The Apollo. Well, well worth the journey.
Next was an old favourite of mine, reverting me to an excitable skinny jeans clad 14 year old version of myself was The Coral. Opening with Jacqueline they had a humble presence about them. More like they’d come for a pint to watch a mate and said they’d do a few. Weirdly, despite a solid set it seemed to take a lot of people a while to get used to it. Whether it was a large quantity of sobriety or just the old ‘Manc vs Scouse’ thing, or just some people didn’t like it, I didn’t understand. Luckily In The Morning warmed everyone up, with them then ‘whacking out the bangers’ so to speak. Pass It On and very understated closer Dreaming Of You rounded up a solid, yet somewhat subdued set.
The anticipation built, as the numbers began to outweigh that of a Manchester City game rapidly (someone had to say it) and, I can’t really speak for anyone else, but I hotly awaited the next act. I mean, during the wait we found the switch to the seat heaters that someone had knocked into ‘on’all night. In one of the weirdest bookings I’ve ever encountered, the politically fuelled, clock clad hip-hop trend setters Chuck D and Flava Flav, Public Enemy walked on. The next half an hour was just as aggressive and relevant as their inception years as an emotionally charged and downright entertaining set with fists and shapes and cups and kitchen sinks thrown through tracks Fight The Power, Bring Tha Noise and tributes and dedications to Prince as well as Mohammed Ali, they polished their night off with a highlight of the evening in the majestic Just Like That and managed to stir up a storm with the avidly awaiting Roses fans, causing the exact amount of excitement you’d expect for their heroes homecoming.
Finally, after multiple shots of Heineken to the head and multiple glasses of watered down whiskey and cokes, it was time. I didn’t know whether to be excited or sceptical, but either way I knew I couldn’t be spending anymore than another £6 on a beer, but it was The Stone Roses. So took care of this while waiting for their big onstage arrival. Little did I know, there wouldn’t be one. No big introduction music or pyro, just bassist Mani leading their laidback wander onto the stage as the floor and the stands and general stadium erupted to stone-cold fan favourite I Wanna Be Adored. The momentum just grew and grew as Ian’s magnificent, yet understandably challenging for some stage persona, wandering round as if he owned the place. Luckily I seemed to catch him on a good night as well vocally, after seeing some questionable performances on phone footage videos recently he blasted through seamlessly with John Squires Guitar licks sounding as juicy as ever and Alan ‘Reni’ Wren tighter than a rubber band around the finger in maths class. One thing that did intrigue me as they stormed through Sally Cinnamon, Songs For My Sugar Spun Sister, Where Angels Play and Shoot You Down as well as multiple others, was WHERE DOES HE PULL ALL THOSE BELLS FROM? Throwing out stick after stick, Brown swaggered around the stage gifting the audience every couple of seconds.
Throughout, again, barely a word was said from the band to the crowd. But let’s face it, did they really need to say a thing? No. No is the answer. At the halfway point of the night, Waterfall stole the night with the middle section refrain and Squire’s groove locking in with each section, and was a track I really think they could have played the rest of the night and everyone would be content with the same. Fools Gold, Made Of Stones and -cough-allforone-cough came within quick succession of each other, with the fainters and the ravers making themselves known to those in the standing area, the end was nigh as the band begun to sound, admittedly, a little bit tired... but it’s not 25 years ago anymore, which people seem to be forgetting every time they complain about these recent performances. This is The One set the entire audience up for the final, self explaining closer and roof caver I Am The Resurrection. The sky literally exploded with the pyro finish I somewhat expected at the start, and Brown, Squire, Mani and Remi proved that regardless of how long they go away and whatever they come back with... they have and always will be (sigh) adored.
Hopefully any future tracks will be able to build on the momentum from this... just hoping for the same form as I saw this night in the future. And maybe a smoking area next time?