The Stone Roses – Their 10 Most Important Gigs, From Hampstead To Heaton Park

The Stone Roses have just announced two massive extra shows to their 2017 UK tour plans.

Needless to say, Roses fans will be hoping that the two Leeds First Direct Arena dates go down as seminal moments in the band’s already-rich gigging history. To get you in the mood, here are 10 of the most important Stone Roses performances in their long and turbulent career.

1. Hampstead Moonlight Club, London – October 23, 1984
The band’s first ever gig was at this tiny-yet-legendary venue within The Railway pub in leafy West Hampstead. The Roses served as a support act to Pete Townshend, who had put the show on as an anti-heroin concert, and allegedly only agreed to put the band on the bill after Ian Brown wrote him a letter saying, “I’m surrounded by skagheads, I wanna smash ’em. Can you give us a show?” Journalists praised the performance, and the band received management offers soon after.


2. Haçienda, Manchester – August 15, 1985
A hometown show – at the iconic Haçienda, no less – that occurred as the band were building up a head of steam, with a setlist that included ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ and first single ‘So Young’ – if you’ve got a gig ticket from this show, then chances are that you’re a bit of a Roses superfan.

3. Empress Ballroom, Blackpool – August 12, 1989
At the time the biggest gig that the Roses had ever played: 3,500 people witnessed what’s been lovingly described since as “a very Northern moment.” The band, in their prime having released their self-titled debut album, excelled in this grand venue and proved that they could put a large crowd under their spell.

4. Spike Island, Widnes – May 27, 1990
A seminal moment in the history of the band, their own baggy Woodstock, a crystallising moment of the Madchester scene – there have been many, many things written about the gig that took place around abandoned chemical factories on a disused island in the River Mersey. But perhaps the author Jon Ronson best described what it meant for the Roses: “It didn’t feel to me like the start of something as the end of it – the ideal place to bring down the curtain on what it had been. The record had been out for a year by then, and because the Roses didn’t release another record for so many years afterwards, it framed perfectly the summit of what they’d become and what they meant to people.”

Read more! The FULL story of Spike Island 25 years on


5. Glasgow Green – June 9, 1990
Seven thousand Roses fans converged upon Glasgow’s east end park to revel in the sound of a band at their peak – but, amid the euphoria, little did everyone know that this would be the last time that the classic line-up would play together for 22 years. Reni, their tempestuously talented drummer, would quit the band a month before their next live show, five years later.

6. Rockefeller Music Hall, Oslo, Norway – April 19, 1995
The Roses’ first gig in five years took place in this Scandinavian city, where the job in hand was promoting the long-overdue second album Second Coming. No doubt that the Oslo faithful responded enthusiastically to this new chapter in the Roses history (anyone who went to that gig – do feel free to contact us and let us know how it really went down), but, without Reni, this was the beginning of the end for the first iteration of the Roses.

7. Reading Festival – August 25, 1996
Controversial? Rather terrible? Oh yes. But important? Definitely. This was the last time that the tired Stone Roses 1.0 would ever play together, as Ian Brown and Mani dissolved the band soon after. John Squire had quit the band four months previously (to be replaced by Simply Red’s tour guitarist), which emphatically sounded the death knell – and after this largely-unlistenable performance (Brown’s perennially off-key vocal was described by NME as “more like the eternal crucifixion”), there would be no more gigs for nearly 16 years.

8. The Ritz, Manchester – December 2, 2011
Although not actually a full-blown Roses performance, this moment holds great significance in the recent history of the band as the first time that Ian Brown and John Squire had played together in 16 years. Reuniting in Manchester in the name of charity – a Mick Jones-organised Hillsborough Justice Tour – they performed ‘Elizabeth My Dear’ (apparently as a request from Jones himself) and made Roses fans think the impossible: surely they couldn’t reform?

9. Parr Hall, Warrington – May 23, 2012
Well, reform they did. Hastily-announced on the day of the gig itself, fans from all over the UK (including Liam Gallagher) scrambled in an effort to witness the first proper Stone Roses gig since the Reading catastrophe in 1996.

10. Heaton Park, Manchester – June 29-July 1, 2012
And then came the proper comeback. If Parr Hall was the band tentatively dipping their toe in the shallow end of the pool, then Heaton Park was the four-piece diving like Tom Daley from 100ft into the depths of the Pacific Ocean. These three gigs were the fastest-selling rock shows in British music history – 225,000 tickets were shifted to the bucket-hat wearing masses – and, thankfully, it sounded amazing, and fans speak of it like it was a religious experience.

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