Photo: Rex Features
On what was the last ever live performance of The Stone Roses, the Mancunian pop messiahs served up a sumptuous banquet to nourish the hearts, minds and ear canals of multiple thousand lionising followers in Glasgow.
The evening’s appetisers came in the form of Steve Mason – formerly of cult folktronica pioneers, The Beta Band – followed by the unsinkable Primal Scream. To say this read as a who’s who of alternative music is no understatement, not to mention it comprising the very elite of what Scotland has to offer in terms of musicianship.
Mason meshed the old, such as Beta Band classic Dry the Rain with the new, including the celestial Planet Sizes, his most recent solo single; after dedicating Fight Them Back to the victims of the Grenfell tower atrocities. As the stadium started to fill up, the Scream professionally eased through a host of sure fire hits, generating chaos in the standing areas and dedicating Come Together to one Jeremy Corbyn.
Awaiting the main event, the atmosphere was especially palpable. The Roses returning to their second home is a spiritual event in itself – never mind the sense that it’s going to be all over soon – but there’s the added unpredictability of how Brown and Reni’s notoriously strained dynamic will manifest, particularly with it taking a sour turn in recent times. The Supremes’ Stoned Love blasts from the soundsystem and there’s one last chance to fear the thought of Robbie Maddix.
As the Fab Four grace the stage, one wishes Brown and Reni – who enter from opposite sides – would take the advice of their own walk on song: “A love for each other will bring fighting to an end / forgiving one another…” – ironically however, it’s typical Stone Roses that it should end in the “ferality” that Brown later sings of on All for One, which the crowd satisfyingly went nuts for.
Mani unleashes that famous Adored bassline to kick off proceedings. Timeless. Elephant Stone, Sally Cinnamon and Sugar Spun Sister jangle by in all of their ethereal beauty. Begging You, while half the crowd couldn’t be arsed with it, is stunning. Ferocious big beat funk generated in abundance by the famous rhythm section. Brown spots a ‘No Pasarán’ banner in the crowd and points it out to an equally appreciative Squire.
Dedicated to “the wicked witch of London”, Elizabeth My Dear is tragically as relevant as it was in 1989 – and prompts a huge singalong. Fools Gold is a completely different beast, an absolute sledgehammer of groove. There’s plenty of eye contact throughout. Squire, Mani and Reni in their element, feeding off one another is a sight to behold.
Where angels play, heart-shaped tambourines, and the birds sing out the sweetest song there has ever been
Reni carries Where Angels Play seamlessly into Shoot You Down, both tracks encapsulating an element of the many that made this group so special: a candid vulnerability delivered in unison with a self assured, soulful swagger. “Don’t be sad it’s over, be happy that it happened” exclaims Brown before a dramatic run in of hits including a show-stealing solo from Squire on Breaking Into Heaven.
It’s a beautiful thing that I say bye bye. Hear me, it’s a beautiful thing, so I stay so high
What happened in the minutes before and after Resurrection almost told the entire story of Brown and Reni’s relationship. As the drummer delivers a jaw dropping solo, Brown decides to join in on the bongos, perhaps subtly to take his one moment away.
When the frontman sings Beautiful Thing a cappella at the very end, it’s not unreasonable to assume the talk that Reni didn’t want to play it live, or make further new music, is true. The whole band embrace – except those two – and just like that the final nail is delievered into the coffin of a generation transcending entity that meant so much to so many people. The biggest underachievers of all time. And for a band consistently credited as one of the most influential ever, certainly in Britain, that’s some going.
RIP Stone Roses | 1983-1996 • 2011 – 2017