The Stones Roses play two dates at London’s Finsbury Park this weekend. Simon Poulter got a sneak preview at La Cigale in Paris.
They came from the north, they came from the south. They came for the day by Eurostar, they came for the evening by Metro.
Their hair may have been greying, their kids may have been at home, doing homework under the au pair’s supervision, they may have been squeezed into Adidas tops, they may have been mostly the same nationality, but they were all disciples convening to celebrate the resurrected, if you will, to jog on the spot, primate-style, to one of the greatest British rock bands ever to produce just two albums before disintegrating.
The Stone Roses, for it is they, are on the heritage trail, pure and simple. With no new material to promote (though John Squire has hinted at “three or four” new tracks in the works), this congregation of disciples at La Cigale in Paris is a continuation of what began in 2011 with their unexpected but much savoured reformation.
For a band that collapsed amid catastrophic acrimony following the tour for only their second album, the Roses were greeted in Paris last night as if they’d been going solidly for the last two decades. To be fair, they do perform as if they’ve been going as long.
The music is built around the little-altered formula held together by Mani’s subtly intricate bass work and Remi’s cleverly understated drumming, John Squire’s guitar – a contribution comparable to Johnny Marr’s in The Smiths – and Ian Brown’s mainly flat vocals (some things will never change, it would appear).
In total, it’s an infectious chug that keeps the calf muscles properly exercised for the better part of 90 minutes. And it is wildly appreciated by the 1000-strong crowd, noticeably Anglo-French in its composition, but with a significant bias towards the Brits – local expats and day trippers alike.
Fools Gold, I Am The Resurrection, Waterfall, She Bangs, Made of Stone, Adored, Ten Storey Love – like artillery shells on a battlefield they thud into the wildly receptive crowd, one after another, with little fanfare from the band.
Brown’s stage presence is a curious one. Clearly the prototype for Liam Gallagher, albeit without the ridiculous school playground thug demeanour, Brown seems to studiously avoid overstating his role as the band’s lyrical and vocal outlet. When not singing, he’s conducting the crowd with a pair of shakers, as if a sorcerer waving a pair of wands to command even more wild frugging from the floor.
The interaction between bandmates, too, is minimal. Perhaps this is nothing more than the unspoken respect four very old friends have for each other, or the possibility that a fragility remains even now in their relationships after so much discord.
Whatever is keeping it intact is doing so well. In principle it’s rock – with Squire’s numerous flushes of Jimmy Page-like strutting spotlighting how good a rock guitarist he is – and sometimes its just hard-edged dance music.
Whatever it is and whatever it was last night, it was something ragged and perfectly formed at the same time. The Roses may have set the bar high for their generation with the famous Spike Island concert, and their Manchester homecomings last year at Heaton Park reignited the flames of adulation that had licked at the Roses’ boots for the latter 80s and early 90s. Squeezed into the pocket confines of La Cigale, what the Roses lose from not having a tens of thousands massed before them is more than made up for by the 1000 loving every single minute of it.
Article originally published here.