The Stone Roses played a rapturously received comeback show at Warrington Parr Hall tonight (May 23) – their first gig in 16 years.
The Manchester legends, who announced last year that they had reunited, played an 11-song set, no encore, opening with ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, the opening track from their 1989 debut album, and closing with ‘Love Spreads’, the lead single from ‘The Second Coming’.
In attendance was former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, who took his seat on the balcony to a crowd chant of “Liam!, and found time to Tweet excitably during the gig: “The Stone Roses are back!” Also in the crowd were Cressa, the unofficial “fifth Stone Rose”, who told us he was delighted the band had decided to reform: “It’s just good everyone’s friends again.”
The crowd waiting for The Stone Roses to take the stage
In spite of fears to the contrary, frontman Ian Brown’s vocals were strong throughout, straying out of tune only occasionally, as on ‘Second Coming’ track ‘Tightrope’. The band seemed well rehearsed, and relaxed in each other’s company. During ‘Waterfall’, Brown said something in guitarist John Squire’s ear, and the pair exchanged a smile.
Bassist Mani in particular seemed in high spirits, sticking his tongue out at the audience. Drummer Reni, meanwhile, wore a headset microphone and played a double bass drum emblazoned with the lemon logo familiar from ‘The Stone Roses’ artwork.
Fans queuing for the gig
Brown had harsh words for those in the crowd who insisted on filming/tweeting through the gig, rather than “living in the moment”. Aside from that, though, he bantered cheerfully with the intimate, 1500-strong crowd. Before ‘She Bangs The Drums’ he quipped: “Are we in tune yet? There’s loads of girls in here.”
According to Stone Roses biographer John Robb, there were some pre-gig nerves. “I’ve never seen Ian nervous before,” he told NME after the show. “But he was, just as they came on. They sounded great. But how could they not with the world’s best drummer?”
There were no new songs, but there were a few surprises. At the end of ‘Love Spreads’, Brown broke into a rap, which appeared to feature the phrase, “Stone Roses up on the stage”. The band then left the stage, sharing hugs and taking a bow, with Brown telling the audience: “Thank you, we’ll be back.”
There was no encore. The lights went up, and Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ started playing over the PA. Film-maker Shane Meadows then went onstage to film the crowd.
The gig had been announced last minute, just hours before show time, via the band’s official site. Fans were able to collect one wristband per person from the Warrington Pyramid box office (next to Warrington Parr Hall) from 4pm today. To qualify, fans needed to take a Stone Roses CD inlay cover, record sleeve, official band T-shirt or Heaton Park ticket with them. From talking to fans in the crowd, however, it was clear that many locals had known about the gig for some time, but had been sworn to secrecy.
The show will act as warm-up for the band’s summer European tour, which kicks off in Barcelona next month. The band will then play their first scheduled UK shows in Manchester’s Heaton Park on June 29, 30 and July 1.
The view from outside Warrington Parr Hall before the show
The Stone Roses announced their reformation in October 2011. The foursome have since written “at least three or four new tracks” for a potential third album release, it was reported yesterday.
Meanwhile, a special collectors’ issue dedicated to The Stone Roses is currently available. Produced by the teams behind NME and sister title Uncut, the magazine features the story behind Ian Brown and co’s rise to the top, the creation of their seminal debut album, the legal wrangles and lengthy delays behind their second LP ‘Second Coming’ and their reunion late last year. The issue is available on newsstands and digitally – click here to order your copy.
Don’t miss the next issue of NME, on sale May 30, for the definitive review of the gig
The Stone Roses played:
‘I Wanna Be Adored’
‘Made Of Stone’
‘(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister’
‘Where Angels Play’
‘Shoot You Down’
‘She Bangs The Drums’
Footage has also emerged on YouTube, purporting to be a “new song”, recorded at the soundcheck ahead of the Parr Hall gig. It actually appears to be a new version of ‘Sally Cinnamon’. It’s very poor quality, but you can watch it below.