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The Stone Roses - Warrington Parr Hall - 23.5.12

The stage was set, the voice of Diana Ross was screaming “Stoned Love” gloriously through the in house PA. This was Warrington Parr Hall, Wednesday May 23rd, 2012.

With the backdrop firmly in place, 4 figures emerge to rapturous applause and jubilation. This was history. This was first time in almost 22 years that these 4 musicians had played together in front of an audience. As energetic as ever, they stormed onto the stage and after a quick blast from Reni on his beautifully decorated double kick drum, the opening bars of I Wanna Be Adored signal the comeback that so many people the world over have been waiting for. You can barely hear the bass as what must have been the entire crowd were enthusiastically shouting along to every note and even more so when Ian Brown begins with the opening line “I don’t have to sell my soul”. Eagerly trying to hear Ian’s vocals in an attempt to pass comment or review them becomes further challenging as the band continue into fan favorite Mersey Paradise and, true to form the “der der der’s” in the intro and the screaming along to the words continue.

At this point you can drink it in. You are witnessing The Stone Roses. The band that so many have paid to see at Heaton Park. The band with several tribute acts in their honor. The band that inspired coach trips, allowing their cult following to see them the world over in the late 1980’s. The band that bombed at Spike Island, took over Blackpool, brought half of Old Trafford’s K Stand to Paris with them and eventually imploded after years of legal troubles with record labels.

If you were there in the early days, you understood the draw of The Stone Roses. If you missed it but saw them here, you understand now. There is a lot that can be said about the bond between certain musicians and by the time we reach the chorus for Sally Cinnamon, it is obvious to everyone who wasn’t already aware than Ian, John, Mani and Reni are 4 musicians that, when together, create an energy

The feeling in the room is one of pure love. This is projected from the stage as the four of them, Mani in particular (unsurprisingly), look like they are having the time of their lives as they launch into Made of Stone. Despite strict instructions not to use any cameras or phones, both from the door security and numerous signs plastered all over the venue, a small part of the crowd are still attempting to take pictures and capture videos on their mobile phones. However, security staff dotted all over the venue, were very quick to respond to this and continuously threatened to eject any repeat offenders. This explains the tiny amount of footage that has appeared on YouTube and the lack of any decent photographs. Fear not though, as there was a huge pro camera presence, which suggests that if a DVD release isn’t coming, then a lot of this footage will be used as part of Shane Meadows’ upcoming documentary about the reunion. After Made of Stone, Ian strangles the SM58 in typical style, to the point where you can barely hear him like some DJ at a wedding, and instructs the crowd to “stop filming and taking pictures and live in the moment”, a sentiment that is clearly ignored by some yet embraced by others.

From Sugar Spun Sister, to Where Angels Play and then Shoot You Down, the energy within the room shows absolutely no signs of winding down. And then, to the surprise of almost everyone, the band ease slowly into Tightrope, an acoustic number from their Second Coming album, which I am sure absolutely nobody expected to hear tonight. This version is different to both the album version and the live version from the bands final release Crimson Tonight. Starting acoustically, it grows into a full on rock and roll track.

It’s at this point that you realize that this must come to an end, and the end is certainly on the way. Waterfall, She Bangs The Drums and finally, Love Spreads, during which Ian Brown entered into a rap where he repeatedly said “Stone Roses, on the stage, Stone Roses, all the rage”, ended a night of celebration and passion as the four band members embrace in a hug and take a bow. Whilst this may sound contrived, the smiles on their faces and, again, the energy in the room proved otherwise. No encore, although, even with the house lights up, a crowd hungry for more stay firmly in place for the most part, whilst Bob Marley’s Redemption Song plays through the PA fittingly, just as The Supremes did 11 songs ago. With film maker Shane Meadows stood centre stage with camera in hand, the road crew begin dismantling the kit and throwing setlists into the crowd, its becoming obvious that we wont be hearing I Am The Resurrection tonight and as the venue empties and the reluctant crowd spill onto the streets, there are cameras everywhere to capture the history and interview anyone who is willing. It was at this point that I spotted Jimmy Mudriczki from Manchester band Puressence, standing alone, looking as mesmerized as everyone else.

On a beautiful night, where only 800 people will be able to say “I was there”, it is obvious that we have just witnessed something special. All of the anxiety surrounding their standard of performance from the average fan has surely been extinguished at this point. If they were better than this back in the day then the hype surrounding the reunion is no surprise whatsoever. Reni’s drumming really does have to been seen to be believed, Ian’s voice held up fine, even if it was weak in places (which was to be expected), John Squire is still a world beating head down lead guitar player, worthy of the term guitar hero and finally, Mani. The chief “Stoned Rose”, the band mascot, their very own band champion. He just looked thrilled that the reunion he campaigned for for so many years had finally come to fruition.

Whether this will sound good in front of 75,000 people at Heaton Park as opposed to the 800 in Warrington Parr Hall remains to be seen but class is permanent and form is temporary and The Stone Roses are the classiest act in the world for the first time since June 9th, 1990

Sam Smith

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Sam Smith is singer songwriter in the band Sam Smith & Company. Listen to his own material here http://www.facebook.com/samsmithandcompany

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