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REVIEW: The Stone Roses at Heaton Park – A second coming worth a 16 year wait

By Gerald Lynch on July 2nd, 2012

The Stone Roses - Heaton Park 2012

Picture 3 of 30
Picture 3 of 30

Reunion shows aren’t quite the mystical occasion they once were. From the Pixies to Suede to Led Zeppelin to Pulp, long-missed musical heroes are now a staple head to the line-up of summer festivals.

The Stone Roses reunion, however, sits outside the realms of regular reunion shows . Following an acrimonious split, it’s been 16 years since the original line-up of vocalist Ian Brown, guitarist John Squire, bassist Gary “Mani” Mounfield, and drummer Alan “Reni” Wren shared a stage. With each member taken up with solo projects, other bands or ventures outside of music altogether, bassist Mani called reunion rumours “totally fantasy island”. It seemed like it was never going to happen.

But it did. Though big bucks obviously exchanged hands, this was always going to be about more than just the money. There was unfinished (monkey) business to attend to. Laying down the soundtrack for a generation with their eponymous début album, The Stone Roses took years to put out so-so follow up The Second Coming. From then on in it was a slow slide towards destruction with near misses (such as their heartbreaking headline Glastonbury show pull-out caused, by Squire breaking a collarbone while mountain biking) punctuating the run-up to the band’s inevitable implosion. The band that invented “baggy” and rejuvenated jangly indie pop never got their just deserts.

It was with genuine jubilation then, not cynicism, that fans welcomed the news of a reunion in October 2011.

Saturday’s second Heaton Park homecoming show (30/06/2012) was a triumph, silencing any naysayers and showing a band perfectly at ease with their “legendary” status. If the first night had been methodical and careful, the second saw the band enjoying themselves, playing loose with extended jams and Ian Brown prowling the stage; the King Monkey had reclaimed his throne.

Kicking things off with their traditional slow-building blinder I Wanna Be Adored, The Stone Roses powered through a set of fan favourites which included their first album in its entirety.

Though every song was rapturously received, highlights came in somewhat unexpected places. Fans sang at their loudest during first album track Made Of Stone and The Second Coming single Ten Story Love Song. A well lubricated crowd of all ages was in good, friendly spirits (a rarity in enormo-shows like these), bobbing with baggy swagger to the grooves of Fools Gold, with Squire, Reni and Mani regularly jamming segues between each song.

Though banter was kept to a minimum, Brown kept an eye on a lively crowd, commanding the swarming pit to “pick each other up if you go down”, and flying into an anti-royal diatribe before first album favourite Elizabeth My Dear.

Ending the only way an epic Stone Roses set could with an extended I Am The Resurrection, fans cheered a united, hugging band at the close as fireworks blasted overhead and Bob Marley’s Redemption Song blared out of the PA. A fitting end; after years of fighting and will-they-wont-they reunion rumours, the band have risen phoenix like, redeemed, proving their enduring relevance and position as one of the finest bands to ever hail from British shores.

The set remained identical to Friday night’s opener, and also carried over onto Sunday’s show, likely in order to help director Shane Meadow as he prepares to edit together a commemorative DVD of the weekend. Hit the Spotify playlist below to hear the Saturday night set-list in full:


Earlier in the day saw fellow Manc hero Liam Gallagher declare The Stone Roses “the best band in the world” as he lead his post-Oasis project Beady Eye onstage for the main headline slot. Carrying Gallagher’s trademark swagger throughout, a genial crowd paid most attention when the band tore through a handful of Oasis classics including Rock ‘n’ Roll Star and Morning Glory.

Beady Eye were preceded by Professor Green, whose dubstep-tinged rapping was at odds with the rest of the line-up. Despite a short barrage from hecklers, Professor Green eventually won over the crowds with hits including I Need You Tonight and Just Be Good To Green which saw a surprise appearance from Lily Allen.

The Wailers managed to bring out the sun during what was a heavily overcast day. Though few remaining members of the original Bob Marley-era line-up remain, they enjoyed mass sing alongs to One Love and I Shot The Sheriff.

Hollie Cook, daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, kicked off the day with a reggae/punk fused set welcomed by a crowd already fired up by a 16 year wait.

IMAGES – PA




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