Gig Review by Nic Jones

Four years ago The Stone Roses were resurrected in spectacular fashion. Returning to their Mancunian homeland, the band reunited after a fifteen year split. In an iconic moment for British and indie music, they performed an emotional and triumphant set of shows at Heaton Park, delighting their long-serving fan base and showing the world that they still had ‘it’.

The Stone Roses - Etihad Stadium - Manchester - 15.06.16 - John Johnson-86

The Stone Roses by John Johnson

Four years later and they are back for a four night stint at the mammoth Etihad Arena. As one of only a small number of destinations that the band are visiting in Europe, Manchester is playing host to Stone Roses fans from around the world, making their pilgrimage to see the band return again. Reviews from their first three nights suggest that they have delivered, but we were at their final show in the city to see if they could live up to the resurrected hype.

The support act choices are varied and interesting. The Courteeners seem like a natural choice for this audience. A home grown Mancunian band with a collection of indie records, they inspire the early arriving crowds to forget the rain and dance through it. They have a wealth of well-known material, but in this supporting slot they can only play a small selection, of which their first hit Not Nineteen Forever is a standout highlight. They warm the crowd up nicely, even seeing coloured flares set off throughout the audience in appreciation of them.

They are followed by American Hip Hop group Public Enemy. Hip Hop seems like a strange choice to precede the Roses, but as one of the most critically acclaimed, popular groups in the genre, they are definitely a credible one. Public Enemy waste no time in bringing their high octane and energy spirit to the arena, and there are real crowd-pleasing moments, such as during their performance of ‘Harder Than You Think’.

By 9pm, it’s time for the Stone Roses to hit the stage and they do so with the force of mega hit ‘I Wanna Be Adored’. If the lyrics were to question how fans feel for the band, they instantly have their response. They ARE adored. From the moment Mani plays that opening baseline, the arena is enraptured.

The Stone Roses - Andy Willsher

The Stone Roses by Andy Willsher

From there, the Roses race through their back catalogue, delighting with hits like ‘Sally Cinnamon’ and ‘Waterfall’, and it’s impossible not to admire the skills on display. John Squire’s guitar riffs are as sharp and euphoric as ever, Reni’s drums provide the perfect dance beat and Mani’s baselines define that unique Stone Roses sound. Ian Brown is, as ever, the iconic front man. His mancunian drawl soars above the thousands of voices singing back at him, delivering that gritty sound that made the band famous.

Their first new song in over 20 years, ‘All For One’ is greeted rapturously by fans. The bouncing fans respond to it as energetically as they do the hits, showing that for this crowd, this band can still do no wrong.

The Stone Roses - Etihad Stadium - Manchester - 15.06.16 - John Johnson-18

The Stone Roses by John Johnson

Whilst it’s a pleasure to hear new material, as a Stone Roses fan, there is nothing quite like hearing the opening base line of ‘Made of Stone’ and ‘She Bangs The Drums’. The word ‘classics’ does not do these songs justice. Seeing them performed live is a thrill beyond comparison and it brings the house down. Audience members dance with carefree abandon, shouting lyrics at each other and jumping up and down for the chorus. Do any other current indie bands inspire their fans to such liberated joy and abandon?

The night finishes with fireworks lighting up the sky, new track ‘Beautiful Thing’ playing in the background and the band embracing on stage. The only shame is that ‘Beautiful Thing’ isn’t played live. Of their new material it’s the track that embraces their past but also shows real promise that The Stone Roses can deliver new material that has a place in 2016’s music scene. That said, the sight of the four band members embracing in front of the crowd speaks volumes: the Stone Roses are still going strong.

The Stone Roses - Etihad Stadium - Manchester - 15.06.16 - John Johnson-33

The Stone Roses by John Johnson

The Stone Roses continue to live up to their supersonic hit ‘I am The Resurrection’; no matter their history and how long it’s taken them to reach this harmonious equilibrium, they keep proving that they are the comeback kings.

Set List: I Wanna Be Adored / Elephant Stone / Sally Cinnamon / Mersey Paradise / (Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister / Bye Bye Badman / Where Angels Play / Shoot You Down / Begging You / Waterfall / Don’t Stop / Elizabeth My Dear / Fools Gold / All For One / Love Spreads / Made of Stone / She Bangs The Drums / Breaking into Heaven / This Is The One / I Am the Resurrection

For more info on The Stone Roses: Website / Twitter / Facebook

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