so. i write this sat next to a washing machine. the machine whirls and whines away, removing from my jeans the final remnants of the mud of Heaton Park. yes, if you ask, yes i would like to be able to keep that mud. the jeans, alas, also carry on them the scent and the sauce of a 1am Manchester tandoori chicken kebab. washing away the mud seems to be as good a time as any to write out the memories of seeing The Stone Roses.
if you are expecting any high grade, clear pictures of the band, sorry, move along. i took a few snaps with my blueberry just to illustrate here, nothing fancy. if by some miracle you spot yourself in one of these pictures, though, then so much the better!
not too long after Plan B had finished doing his thing it was time for the thing that all bar a few at Heaton Park had been waiting for. to the sound of Stone Love, on to the stage came a band that should have, or perhaps in a broken sense did indeed, defined a generation. "brothers and sisters, brothers and sisters", called Ian Brown, "we're here, and we are all here together".
he spoke the truth, as he always does. 75,000 of us, no matter what age or origin, were one generation under the same groove. and we went wild.
as Reni walked on we got a full shot of him on the massive screens at either side of the stage. he bowed, humble and full of grace, saying "thank you" again and again to us all. so much for his illness that would keep him from this, according to that twat out of Dodgy. you got the feeling that even another broken collar bone would have not kept one of them away.
"people are falling down here, we've got to help them, all of us," said Ian Brown. nothing "bad" as such, it was just slippery, muddy ground not quite used to having thousands of people on it in euphoric celebration. "when people fall over, we've got to help them up", said Ian, "physically and metaphysically.". i suspect, but would obviously dare not suggest to correct Ian Brown, he meant "metaphorically", but it sounded just right the way he spoke.
speaking of sound, well, let me try. i would suggest that anyone trying to be critical or comment on Ian Brown's vocal at Heaton Park was probably not there. the noise of the crowd, shouting and sort of singing along to the songs, all but drowned out his voice! the band seemed to be on a way higher volume, though, and they sound like they always did - the best ever.
Ian Brown was Ian Brown for the duration of the gig. you either love him or hate him, for he seems to provide no common ground on which people can or cannot mind one way or the other. my view is what is there not to love of him.
Mani, who you can see below if you have the most dazzling eyesight in history, looked a mixture of terrified and overwhelmed. Mani, the most modest and arguably the most loved musician in the modern world, seems constantly amazed at just how much love there is for the band; how important they were and now again are to so many people. it's like he is shocked and flattered to be held in such high esteem, and thus throws his heart and soul into what must be the greatest bass lines ever devised by a human. if you have a bad word to say of Mani you surely do not have a good word to say of anyone.
the below, i think, shows images of John Squire and Reni as projected on the screens around the stage. sorry, Andrew's laptop doesn't have any picture editing picture that i can get to work!
these two are, of course, the two who left the first time around when, as Ian put it, "the wheels came off". all sorts of rumours flew as to why Reni left, but the only comment the band ever gave was that he "didn't want to do it any more.". well, he most certainly does now.
John Squire. the greatest guitarist of his generation? the greatest guitarist ever? quite possibly, i don't know. i do know, though, that he is certainly one of the best i have ever seen or heard. his rampaging, rolling guitar through things like Fools Gold and Something Burning were revelation personified, something that you wanted to go on and on. no wonder those who went on the Friday and Saturday were so determined to get tickets for the following nights to do it all over again. if i could, i would have gone to a week of these gigs and i doubt once would i have regretted it.
there's a very great danger of course of, if i have not done it already, engaging in hyperbole and not having things in perspective. if you cast your mind backs to when Led Zeppelin did their sort-of reunion gig at the O2 arena, there was all sorts of nonsense about them being "the greatest band ever" and "the most important musicians of all time", written and spoken mostly by people who had forgotten them or even had previously not considered them at all. Nicky Wire has got in on the act this time, declaring that The Stone Roses are "the best and most important band ever". well, for a start he has said that about 10 or so other bands before.
when i was trying to explain The Stone Roses to my Dad, the best i could do was tell him that they "should have been The Beatles of [my] generation", the emphasis sadly on should. if you held the best ten songs by The Stone Roses up against anyone else's best ten - Beatles, Stones, Bowie, Who, anyone - then The Stone Roses are the equal if not better of anyone. the tragedy, thanks to lawsuits, paint attacks, lack of record label intervention and eventual self-destruction, is that they never quite got to make more than 20 great songs in total, whereas the other have hundreds to their name. whereas, after four years of plugging away, their debut album changed the direction of music in general and the life of all that it touched in particular, we were left with a big gap when no more came to follow it. we had a huge gap to fill, and we sort of did, but it was not quite the same as what these lads from Manchester had given us a taste of.
John Squire at the press conference spoke of how the friendship between the band defined their lives and spoke of how it "needed fixing". if that's done is not for anyone but the four of them to say. for the crowd, though, well - will being one of the quarter of a million people at Heaton Park that weekend in any way, shape or form define our lives? yes, if we have the will to let it, i suppose. i haven't the audacity or nerve to compare it to other landmark music events in history as some have because i was not at them. i was at this, though, and shall remember it forever.
as for "fixing", well, the event gave me kind of something i have craved for many years now - the sense of being just another, possibly even anonymous, Stone Roses fan. back in SA, with the exception of Shaun the only other fans of the band i know are ones that i have made by passing on their music to them. for me to be in a field with 75,000 other people all just getting into the vibe of it was all i ever craved or wanted from the day - no longer feeling isolated, alone or off the beaten track with my love for the band and the music. i was just one of so, so many. it felt great to truly sense i belonged somewhere.
the band hammered on for two straight hours. well, give or take on the straight, really. there was a bit of stopping and starting, in particular when John Squire started playing a different song to everyone else, but nothing they couldn't quickly fix. as for the set, they started with Adored and ended with Resurrection, with all else in between being anything and everything a fan of the band could want. someone else somewhere will no doubt put up the full set list, indeed i saw someone holding a camera on a tripod so undoubtedly the whole gig shall be on you tube or similar before long.
on that note, thankfully there was not all that much camera holding and what have you - just like me people wanted a snap here and there for the memories, but mostly just wanted to savour the moment. very wise.
and on that note, the only down side to it all was that the moment seemed to pass so very, very quick. it is the truth i speak when i say not once, for over twenty years, have i had a week when i have not had The Stone Roses on the stereo at some point. being so familiar with the music meant that the actual event felt like an instant, the real memories shall at least last forever.
ah, now i know this next picture was taken when the did Love Spreads, because that is when the band and the stage were bathed in red!
we did indeed get Ian Brown's peculiar and somewhat unusual rap stint at the end of this song. i have no idea what he was saying, except for the bits when he was saying "Stone Roses up on the stage". it no doubt all made the greatest of sense to him.
at the end of the gig, and i do not know if this happened at all three shows or if it was just for us on the last night, we got fireworks
a lot of fireworks! the display just seemed to go on and on, as if it was a combination of every major firework display in the history of gunpowder. a nice touch, and nice one!
John and Lisa were well impressed with it all, as you can see below in the truly brilliant picture that Michele took with her vastly superior model of blueberry!
me? your humble narrator? well, i was just blown away, impressed and thrilled by everything, glad to have been there.
hopefully that picture above shows off just how happy i was. it is now one of my most favourite pictures of me anyway!
just in case you thought i was kidding about how many fireworks were going off, here's another shot of some more!
and finally for your pleasure, how the fireworks looked on the screens of the recently vacated stage. you will note that everyone else is looking in the direction of the actual firework display and not the screen!
there are still so many other stories to tell of the gig and in particular the trek out of Heaton Park back to where we stayed. for the moment, though, this shall do for this particular post.
a wonderful day and night surrounded by amazing people, all wanting to be there and to have a good time. to that end, all i can say is thank you Manchester for your warmth and hospitality to us visitors to your home and, and this will never ever sound like enough, thank you to The Stone Roses for making all of this, every single moment, possible.
if you see someone down, pick them up. by any means available.
the washing machine has just clicked off finished. there goes the last of the mud, here ends this update.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!