A four hour drive from London to Leeds and a cramped megabus journey to Manchester later, I found myself at the 50,000-capacity Etihad Stadium, waiting in anticipation for a gig I’d booked way back in November 2015. The hype surrounding the announcement at the time was tangible, with lemon posters appearing around Manchester’s Northern Quarter and rumours circulating about a potential third album, and I’d been excited for this day to arrive ever since, having been a fan for years, waiting impatiently for the opportunity to see the seminal Mancunian rockers. Even the city centre on the day felt like it was charged with a tangible, excited energy, as long-time adorers and younger fans alike joined forces to take over Manchester.
Having released their debut back in 1989, Ian Brown, John Squire, Alan ‘Reni’ Wren and Gary ‘Mani’ Mounfield continue to incite feverish excitement in Manchester and beyond, with their melange of garage rock, Krautrock, Northern soul and the psychedelic rock vibes of the Madchester movement. Drawing fans from all ages and genders to the Etihad, it was a run of gigs that will be remembered for a long time.
Having missed Blossom’s opening set (which I definitely wasn’t devastated about), I waited in anticipation for Chronixx. Their brand of ‘reggae revival’ was received with open arms by the indie rock crowd, as lead vocalist Jamar Rolando McNaughton Jr preached about marijuana being “medicine for the mind” and performed a touching tribute to Bob Marley, creating a warm bond between the crowd and musicians on stage. The infamous Public Enemy then took to the stage; noted for their politically charged music and criticism of the American media, and active interest in the frustrations and concerns of the African American community, they delivered a charged and energetic performance, asking the crowd to raise their fists in the air; member DJ Lord even remixed Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit with The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army to the crowd’s delight.
The buzz increased as the crowd awaited for The Stone Roses to take the stage, and I was surrounded by bucket hats, lemon-covered clothing, middle aged men with brit mod haircuts and flying bottles of piss, knowing it was set to be a rowdy gig.
The roar of the crowd was filled with ferocious excitement as the famous bassline to I Wanna Be Adored began, and despite an obvious sign of ageing from the members, Ian Brown still had the cheekbones and the lounging swagger; Reni still had a relentlessly cheery grin. Although fairly uncharismatic as performers, the band made up for this with the summery, anthemic classics from their debut, which were received with the same level of joyous enthusiasm from the crowd as they would have if it were a sunny day. Despite the sound being too quiet, this didn’t hamper the atmosphere, as people climbed on shoulders and let off flares that left the crowd dancing through multicoloured smoke. Ian Brown’s vocals lived up to their notoriously dodgy reputation, but nobody really cared as the band smashed through classics like Sally Cinnamon, Made of Stone and Love Spreads with a slick, if a little unenthusiastic, flair.
As the rain began to fall during Waterfall, neither the band nor crowd faltered and the entirety of Etihad danced and sang in the rain in a moment of pure musical euphoria.
Ending with a firework display and speakers blaring their most recent single Beautiful Thing, the drenched crowd filtered out in high spirits. It was definitely a night to remember. The Stone Roses are back.
I Wanna Be Adored
Sugar Spun Sister
Bye Bye Badman
Shoot You Down
Elizabeth My Dear
All For One
Made of Stone
She Bangs the Drums
Breaking into Heaven
This Is the One
I Am the Resurrection