Ben Riley was good enough to queue for this and get 4 tickets for the band we missed out on 1st time round. Not that this was technically a reformation or anything – but to promote The Second Coming.
I was originally dubious about the NME / Sounds massive adoration when the band first surfaced and didn’t bother to check out their early single releases. My mistake. Then back in ’89 a mate brought the cassette of the 1st eponymous album round to a house 3 mates and I had started renting in Kings Heath.
We’d all just moved out of our parents and it was one of those moments when things change. Listening to the first Stone Roses LP was like a soundtrack to messing around and growing up (or arguably – not growing up).
The album was sublime, the tracks were like something we may have missed from the 60’s but also SO up to date it was almost unreal. The LP has an unmistakable, almost muted sound and it had real, relevant, psychedelia. By the time the last track was coming back and back and back at you – you almost could not believe how good it sounded.
On top of this the band were just rock stars. Proper rock stars. I’m not talking Motley Crue here – the Stone Roses were so sure of themselves that they must be right. It seemed up to the Spike Island thing everyone listened and then everyone followed.
It turned out that I heard the 1st LP just after they played The Irish Centre in Digbeth / Cheapside. Man, I was pissed that I missed that show. One of my mates went to see them but he never really talked much about the gig.
When the follow up single Fools Gold / What the World Is Waiting For hit the shops – that was it really – they were everywhere and suddenly loads of floppy haired tie dyed spaced out near trendies popped up everywhere. Very quickly – although grateful for the Stone Roses everyone also had to endure The Farm, The Soup Dragons et al. Just as Fools Gold was the pinnacle of this music scene – the massively inferior bands were a fair downside.
When The Stone Roses finally followed up their debut with The Second Coming you just wanted it to work. This was now post Oasis and you already had a near half generation who did not know who the Stone Roses were and maybe did not care too.
The first track “Breaking Into Heaven” must have had literally a hundred thousand fans holding their breath on the first day the 2nd LP came out. The track teased and took an age…. Where they still that good?
The album had some strong moments but sadly didn’t hang together anything like the debut. A big general consensus between mates who could compare the 2 albums was that they were trying to be Led Zep more than anything else. One of the track aped Stairway Top Heaven so much you could see people visibly sigh when it played.
Anyway. Background out of the way. We were looking forward to the gig and their was a great atmosphere in Wolverhampton before the show. Tickets were exchanging outside for frankly ridiculous prices but no one was selling other than touts. The touts were offering decent prices to buy – but why would you sell?
The very bad news. Reni had just left the band. When a band have that much visible and aural dynamic this was a massive, massive blow. Didn’t the guy who replaced him used to drum for Simply Red or something – I mean – C’mon – WTF!
In reality the gig mirrored both albums. It had the euphoria of the first album in the crowds ecstatic anticipation and the slight let down of the second LP.
Ian Brown’s voice was off – but they had that swagger and immense presence onstage. It wasn’t the gig of a lifetime you (rightly) may have expected but it still was an awesome event.
After the show the bars were still electric with beaming fans so happy to have just seen them. But deep down I think everyone knew they were not the band they once were and the peak had gone never to return.
Rate 9 out of 10.
I’ll leave you with the moment the Stone Roses were briefly on top of the world.