The Stone Roses @ Warrington Parr Hall 23/05/12
Well there is a sentence that I never thought I’d type in my lifetime. The Stone Roses live, never mind at Warrington Parr Hall. It was nothing short of a miracle for all ‘Roses fans when Ian Brown, Mani, Reni and John Squire announced the comeback of all comeback shows at Manchester’s Heaton Park in June this year.
But this was something else.
When the news broke that The Stone Roses were to play a free gig at Warrington’s Parr Hall, but only for any fans bringing official ‘Roses merchandise to the Parr Hall box office as proof of their loyalty to the band, the town erupted. Myself, along with hundreds of other people, were all frantically trying to find our respective merchandise, and break many a land speed record running to gain the golden ticket of golden tickets. Pandemonium had nothing on this. As we all joined the queue with the masses we waited and prayed that we would become one of the lucky one thousand people to get a ticket (or wristband to be more precise). I was number 420.
Fast forward to the gig itself. People seemingly from all over the north-west had arrived to witness the rebirth of one of Manchester’s most loved bands. Due to the circumstances of getting a wristband most people had come by themselves (it was only one per person), but making friends is easy when everybody has one love. The same questions were being bandied about by everybody in their new circles of friends, “What will they play?” “Will they actually sound good?” “Do Brown and Squire genuinely like each other again?” The crowd seemed excited but in a daze, as if this was all one long trip. “This is all too surreal. It must be a piss-take. Bands like The Stone Roses don’t launch their comeback after 16 years away in Warrington”. Just when it couldn’t get any weirder, Liam Gallagher no less arrives on the Parr Hall balcony to take his seat at history to euphoric chants of “LIAM! LIAM!”
And then they came on. And it was sensational.
Opening up with ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, the band sounded wonderfully tight as a musical unit. Mani’s bass-lines and Reni’s drumming sounded in perfect harmony together. Squire’s guitar riffs and licks sounded as easy and effervescent as they ever did. Brown’s vocals were a little off, but were much improved from the band’s heyday back in the late 80′s/early 90′s. Not that it mattered much, as the crowd bellowed every word back to the four piece with unbridled passion and love. The hits kept on coming. ‘Mersey Paradise’ was followed by ‘Sally Cinnamon’, then ‘Made Of Stone’, all sounding better than 20 years ago first time around. One might suspect being sober and drug-free has attributed to this more professional sound.
The set then winded down with less intense fare, but still equally as impressive. ‘Sugar Spun Sister’, ‘Where Angels Play’, ‘Shoot You Down’ and ‘Tightrope’ all followed one another in one seemingly long and hazy groove. Then it all kicked off again as The ‘Roses decided to get the fans jumping and screaming again for ‘Waterfall’, then song of the night ‘She Bangs The Drums’, then a six minute version of ‘Love Spreads’ to finally bring a curtain down on a triumphant comeback gig. The four members took a bow to screams and cheers of ‘we want more!’ They had done it, and the smiles on their faces said that they knew that they had done it.
There’s a way to surmise why this band matter so much with an exchange with a bouncer as I was in line to get my ticket. He told me that the band had been using the Parr Hall as a rehearsal space for the last week or so, and that they decided to give the fans a treat by staging the gig. Apparently when asked how much do they want to charge Ian Brown said “Fuck the money. Tell ‘em to give it to charity or something. Have some collectors around before the gig. If they can afford to give something, sweet. If they can’t, no worries. As long as they’re there”.
And I was there. Along with 999 other very lucky men and women who got to see the gig of a lifetime.
The Stone Roses have been resurrected. Believe.