Friday, 1 July 2016

Party like it's 1989 - The Stone Roses in Manchester

It was back in November of last year that the streets of Manchester were suddenly filled with posters of lemons. Immediately we went on Stone Roses alert! True enough, the next day two gigs in Manchester were announced for the 17th and 18th of June. Tickets would go on sale on November 6, 9AM GMT. From Stone Roses alert we went to ticket stress mode. On that day, a few minutes before 11AM Greek time I had two computers and several browsers open on two different sites. My initial plan was to go for the 18th of June gig, but when the box office opened it was complete chaos and total mayhem. The sites would put me in a queue and when I got at the "front" of this virtual queue I got put on the back of a new one or was told that tickets were not available. At one point one of the sites crashed. I was switching between the 17th and 18th of June gigs in a desperate attempt to find something. Meanwhile two further gigs were added; one on the 19th and then another on the 15th. And finally I was allocated two seats on the 17th! Whew! The hard part was over. All we had to do now was wait for June...
...And June finally came and the dream was about to come true. In the afternoon of June 17th we took the tram from Manchester city centre to Etihad campus (and got souvenir tram tickets labeled "The Stone Roses").
As usual, we went first to the merchandize stand, to get ourserves sorted.

Then, we slowly went on our way to our gate, which involved walking around the stadium. We then passed through security which was a big tighter than usual, but that's understandable, right?
We found our way to our seats, high up, but at least covered in case it rained. And as we were watching the stadium starting to fill up and were waiting for Buzzcocks, the first support act, we had time to appreciate the fact that one of the songs played through the speakers was "Hallelujah" by The Happy Mondays, the other big act of the Madchester era.

So Buzzcocks came up on stage and treated us to several songs dating as far back as the 70's not forgetting their trademark "Ever Fallen In Love". Even I am not old enough to remember this, I first heard it circa 1987 in its cover by The Fine Young Cannibals.

The next act were Coral. Coral had been playing support for Paul Weller when I saw him at the O2 Arena back in 2009. However due to some closed lines at the tube I had arrived late and missed them, so I finally got to see them now, 7 years later...

Public Enemy seemed a strange choice for a support act, but maybe not so if you take into account how much Ian Brown was into hip-hop. This was actually one of the factors causing friction between him and John Squire who was probably more into Led Zeppelin as evidenced from the second album... And still you have to appreciate the fact that this gig gave us a chance to see live not just one great hip hop act from the 80's but the greatest hip-hop act ever.
Their set started with a warm up from their offshoot PE2.0 who even gave us a Prince tribute .

Then the main act came on with "all the hits". Yes, it's fair to say that. You see, I was expecting "Fight The Power" and "Don't Believe The Hype" but I never thought they would play "Shut 'Em Down", from the 90's my second favourite Public Enemy single (after "Fight The Power"). We also got DJ Lord showing us his ablilities when mixing "Seven Nation Army" with Nirvana. Finally Flavor Flav finished the set telling us to "f**k racicm" but more importantly "f**k separatism".

And now, what the world is waiting for... The Stone Roses!

And we all knew how they were going to start. "I Wanna Be Adored" is the perfect opening song, followed by "Elephant Stone" and "Sally Cinnamon" and and and... By that time I knew I was living a dream come true and I could not believe it. They played b-sides, they played standalone singles, they played 3 songs from the second album (including "Love Spreads" but not "Ten Storey"), they even played their new one "All For One" which may not be a great song but it's a fitting singalong anthem for such an occasion, but most importantly they played the first album in full. They even played "Don't Stop", the backwards song! What more could I have asked for? You know at every gig you go you think at the end "Ah, but they didn't play this and this" and I myself could think of a couple of songs like "Going Down" (my favourite b-side and "Ten Storey Love Song" (which is first album material placed in the second one), but since they played the complete first album, and especially "This Is The One", I was more than happy, I felt complete. Even if I walked out of the stadium after "This Is The One" I would be content. During that song I shouted out to the couple who were in front of us "This is not This Is The One, this is The Greatest Song Ever Written". God knows what they thought...

The set ended appropriately enough with "I Am The Resurrection". It started with the first song on the album and ended with the last one.

 They did not play their second newie "Beautiful Thing" which is far superior to "All For One", but it was played through the speakers while we were exiting the stadium. And when we got out we noticed that it had actually rained. Of course we would not have noticed anything since we were under cover but we did not notice the crowd inside the arena noticing.
Well, that was that. After 27 years I had finally seen The Stone Roses live.
I forgive you boys... but don't leave town!

01. I Wanna Be Adored
02. Elephant Stone
03. Sally Cinnamon
04. Mersey Paradise
05. (Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister
06. Bye Bye Badman
07. Where Angels Play
08. Shoot You Down
09. Begging You
10. Waterfall
11. Don't Stop
12. Elizabeth My Dear
13. Fools Gold
14. All for One
15. Love Spreads
16. Made of Stone
17. She Bangs the Drums
18. Breaking into Heaven
19. This Is the One
20. I Am the Resurrection

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