Festival Hall, 07/03/2013
To a rapidly filling room, BBC Radio 1 DJ and mixmaster Zane Lowe acts like a shat Russell Brand, playing a song “for all the Stone Roses fans out there,” badgering our hands into the air and keeping the beats big and bass heavy. Lowe gives it everything he’s got, but the average age here tonight is a bit high for a whole-body response to his energetic cuts and hectoring. Lowe smacks the mixer, dances with the USB-decks and plays a mix of cold, strobe-lit electro and warm bubbly synth bass, but no matter who he is or what he’s doing, he can’t leave the stage soon enough.
With only a goldfish in a bowl to distract us from the wait, it seems an eternity before The Stone Roses stride out to a round of deafening roars and it’s a full minute before bassist Mani can ease into the intro of I Wanna Be Adored, the song itself nearly drowned out by the crowd singing along; even the guitar melodies are sung note for fleeting note. It takes about 15 minutes for Festival Hall to earn its more infernal nickname as the sweaty mass crush against the barrier and from seemingly nowhere (perhaps beamed in from a football terrace in Manchester, 1989), several hundred boisterous Englishmen claim the band and venue for their own, initiating a round of elbow thrusts alternating with shrugged shoulders and ‘not me mate!’ expressions.
Continuing with Mersey Paradise, the crowd noises ease to jet engine level and the skill of each band member becomes clearer. Mani never drops a note, John Squire’s deft ambling over his guitar neck, the brilliant, rock solid beats and fills of Reni and, drawing everyone’s attention, the loping, aping Ian Brown. Sounding unusually (Auto?)tuneful in a way that reminds more of their legendary eponymous album than any live recording you could Google, Brown is vibrant in crisp baggy jeans and his ‘monkey man’ vibe, his timeless cheekbones framing a frequent grin as he gestures and sneaks winks at audience members.
The stifling heat seems not to bother the goldfish, but everyone else is saturated in sweat. iPhone wallpaper pictures of kids are thrust aside as cameras are pushed into the air with predictable frequency. Sugar Spun Sister, Sally Cinnamon, Ten Storey Love Song andSomething’s Happening follow, each played with precision and passion. A stripped-down version of Fools Gold catches the band in a rawer state, but disappoints no one. A glorious take on Waterfall/Don’t Stop sees the crowd get riled up despite it being the gentlest song they play. Closing with a fringe-banging swagger of She Bangs The Drum and anthemic I Am The Resurrection, this is one return we never expected to see, and can be eternally grateful we did. As the band link arms, embrace and accept the rapturous adulation before disappearing, Brown shouts out ‘one love!’ and vanishes backstage while the crowd detach themselves from each other and peel off into warm night air, dazed and happy.