It’s the voice that does it.
For years a source of derision, Ian Brown’s wayward husk is disciplined, focussed, intense. Sure, he’ll never be Jeff Buckley, never command the octaves and make them bend to his will but – on an overcast June day – The Stone Roses frontman is able to peer out over countless thousand souls and know, just know, that they are enraptured with his every word.
It’s been a long time coming. A re-union twenty years in the making, and an ongoing international tour which has matched the sublime (those peerless Heaton Park shows) to the, err, less sublime (Coachella’s mis-fire).
Thankfully, though, tonight sees The Stone Roses firing on all cylinders. Arriving with barely a word to the crowd, Mani begins to pick out a few chugging, reggae influenced notes. To his left, John Squire peers into a maze of wires and pedals, while Reni steadily keeps the grove. Then a downward step, a rise in volume and the band seem to visibly grow more vivid, with ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ racing out over the heads of the crowd.
It’s pointless to list the highlights, to place each moment of the set into a category. The rarely heard ‘Elephant Stone’ is returned to its rightful home onstage, while B-side ‘Going Down’ is given a tender recital. Taking the time to explore their (albeit slender) catalogue, The Stone Roses even point towards much-maligned sophomore set ‘The Second Coming’ – recruiting ‘Love Spreads’, ‘Ten Storey Love Song’ and ‘Breaking Into Heaven’ into the set.
As ever, though, it’s the Big Moments, the anthems that linger most prominently in the memory. Playing each and every track from their debut album, a heavy, rocked out ‘Fool’s Gold’ offers a counterweight to their early buoyancy. ‘Elizabeth My Dear’ is gently intoned before Reni counts the drumbeat and Mani marches to a familiar refrain. ‘I Am The Resurrection’ rings out around Finsbury Park, up into the sky and out beyond London. Stretching further and further out, it’s clear that time spent on the road has only enhanced the band. Picking up those epochal tracks, The Stone Roses are able to explore the spaces that they left behind, to renew their identity rather than overhaul it. A full year on from that three night stand in their hometown, it seems that the band have no intentions of stopping now.
I Wanna Be Adored
Ten Storey Love Song
Shoot You Down
She Bangs the Drums
This Is the One
Made of Stone
Breaking into Heaven
Elizabeth My Dear
I Am the Resurrection
Words by Robin Murray
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