Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Heaton Park - A Month On

Heaton Park - A Month On


I wanted to wait a while before i put my thoughts down on here about The Stone Roses playing their three comeback gigs at Heaton Park in Manchester. Not because i couldn't think of anything to write, but because i wanted to let the dust settle in my mind about just how good it really was. 
My initial reaction as i walked out of Heaton Park on the Sunday evening was that i had just witnessed probably the finest live performance in my lifetime. As i got back to the hotel in Manchester city centre i felt the same way. As i carried on drinking until 3am i felt the same. When i woke up bleary eyed and with the fucker of all hangovers on Monday morning i still felt the same. Would i still feel the same as the weeks passed by though? Would i still feel like it was a monumental moment when the effects of the booze and chemicals wore off and i had slipped idly back into the mundane and grey world of work?

Well, exactly a month has passed and I'm still absolutely convinced that it was magical and that The Roses are still the most important band of my generation. I can't think of a single other act out there who could gather together 75,000 people from all four corners of these isles for three nights running and create a vibe where everyone was buzzing and getting off on the music without the merest hint of moodiness - see Oasis / Beady Eye / Kasabian live for details of this - or the feeling you'd wasted your money. The closest vibe to it that i'd experinced at a gig previously was Paul Weller at Finsbury Park in 1996, but i put that down to too many beers and being off my tits on Ecstacy, but that's a different blog for a different day. 

Having opted to cram in more valuable drinking time, it was decided to give the support acts a miss. Which was a bit of a shame really because i fancied seeing The Wailers but hey-ho when the beers are going down nicely not even the prospect of Marley's mates could tempt us away. After getting out of the taxi -shared with an old Portsmouth 657 Crew fella, his teenage daughter and her very odd, pilled up older mate - and making our way into Heaton Park it was a relief I'd left my desert boots back at the hotel and opted for a knackered old pair of Adidas Rekord, because the place was ankle deep in mud. Never mind though, more beers were consumed - the queueing system appeared to have sorted itself out from the Friday when people snapped at the waiting time and stormed the bar - and the sun started to dip down behind the trees. We found ourselves a spot to the right hand side of the stage, supped up our beer (but didn't collect our fags) and waited for the strains of Stoned Love by The Supremes to come wafting out of the PA. As it did so the atmosphere changed and you could see and feel people start bobbing up and down in anticipation of seeing Brown, Squire, Mani & Reni come onstage and smash out the tunes we loved so much in our youth. As a footnote to this can i just say that trying to Northern Soul dance in ankle deep mud is not really advisable and you will get mud on your favourite Harrington jacket as a result. 

I won't labour the point or bore you with a song-by-song review because lets face it, we all know that the set list runs something like this and if you don't know any of these songs then I'm not sure why you've read this far...

'I Wanna Be Adored'
'Mersey Paradise'
'(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister'
'Sally Cinnamon'
'Where Angels Play'
'Shoot You Down'
'Bye Bye Badman'
'Ten Storey Love Song'
'Standing Here'
'Fools Gold'
'Something's Burning'
'Don't Stop'
'Love Spreads'
'Made Of Stone'
'This Is The One'
'She Bangs The Drums'
'Elizabeth My Dear'
'I Am The Resurrection'

... which lets face it - apart from missing out Elephant Stone - is as good a greatest hits set as you'll get from any band. The stand out moments for me were a beautiful rendition of (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister, the absolutely nuts Don't Stop & The psychedelic outro of I Am The Resurrection. All topped off with an Olympic opening ceremony sized firework display to a soundtrack of Redemption Song by Bob Marley. You know it's been a good day when you manage to grab a cab back into town within 5 minutes of walking out of the gates for the knock-down price of twenty quid!

To all the know-it-alls and the 'i was there the first time round maaaaaan and they won't be the same' doom merchants, you were wrong. You were very, very wrong. They pulled it off in a way that will be talked about for years to come. In a way that made me look at the music industry today and wonder where another band like them is going to come from? A band with a front man as charismatic as Brown? A band with a guitarist as mind bendingly loud and brilliant as Squire? A band with a rhythm section of Mani & Reni that The Meters would be proud of? Let's face it, they are a complete one-off and for my money we'll never, ever see a band that can do what they do again. So a month later with the dust settled and my thoughts straight i am absolutely 100% certain it was by a country mile the greatest gig I'd ever seen.

As Mani said to the audience on the Friday night  "not bad for a bunch of old cunts!"

Rob H - Aug 2012 - dedicated to the memory of Chris Brahney. RIP kiddo - One love.


  1. What an absolute pile of self indulgent bollocks.

  2. I couldn't agree more. I'm a fucker for a spot of self indiulgent bollocks though.