New York Bowery Ballroom

Ex-[b]Stone Rose[/b] invades New York with a Manchester strut...

Their love is like a fountain. In the eyes of those who know where he comes from, and where he’s been, the only thing [a]Ian Brown[/a] can do wrong is not play more music. Which is a bit baffling, considering he plods along, sounds flat and has an odd habit of uttering “sshh-sshh” like a choo-choo train that can’t quite make it up a hill.

Actually, Brown is facing a steep slope: the legacy of the [a]Stone Roses[/a]. For this reason alone, New Yorkers embrace him with a sold-out show and more love than a night at the Hacienda. It’s why people in the front row lend him their personal belongings, and how the mere act of placing a fan’s floppy Kangol hat on his head causes the crowd to cheer as if they’ve heard the first notes of ‘Fools Gold’. This is the kind of moment they’ve paid for.

Reveries of the Roses aside, it’s debatable whether they get their money’s worth. Brown‘s set barely clocks in at 50 minutes, and he does no encore, a fact that is met with boos and incredulous looks at watches. He plays 11 songs, including ‘Love Like a Fountain’, ‘Set My Baby Free’, ‘Dolphins Were Monkeys’, Gettin’ High’, ‘My Star’ and ‘Corpses in Their Mouths’. He closes with a cover of Michael Jackson‘s ‘Billie Jean’, which he prefaces with a feeble moonwalk.

Brown‘s very able band creates a cradle for his off-key voice, surrounding it with groovy beats and melodies that help keep the singer on track. Even so, he seems dissatisfied with the sound and constantly motions to his technical crew to make adjustments. That may be only part of the problem, but the crowd is willing to forgive.

And if King Monkey doesn’t want to grace them with his presence once last time at the end of the night, they’ll probably forgive that, too.

Just give them a New York minute.