Intimate show...

It’s going to be a scrum.

Arriving at the Adidas Underground, the streets are already thronged with blaggers, chancers and sundry other individuals ready to twist somebody’s arm in order to gain entry. Pushing through the door, you’re met with a dank heat, the packed crowd bobbing under the arches.

Bradley Wiggins is here. He’s posing for the press, tucked up in his tonic suit and slim knit tie. Paul Weller is here. Olympian Jessica Ennis is here. The Clash’ own Mick Jones is here... hell, even Goldie is here amongst the packed faces and crowded limbs.

They’re an hour late. A good, solid hour. An hour spent waiting, wondering and debating what kind of show it was going to be. After all, this is essentially a corporate event, right? The Stone Roses are in town, but it’s at the behest of iconic sports brand Adidas.

Within seconds of the band appearing onstage, though, any doubts have been removed. The aura is instant, palpable with Ian Brown immediately vibing up the crowd. “Sorry we’re late” he says, “but we had a shoot out. We split up and then got back together again!”

Mani lurches into a familiar bass line, John Squire sends his liquid fingers down the fret. ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ - both band and crowd in immediate unison, the gig immediately shedding any ‘safe’ branding exercises.

The group are confident, cocky. They might be a little older – two decades, actually – but their aura of infinite cool remains, largely, intact. Breezing into ‘Waterfall’ the band are almost drowned out by the crowd, toasting that most British of pop songs in the company of some of our most celebrated Olympians.

Stretching out, limbering up Ian Brown keeps vibing the crowd, posing as the band swirl around him. Fading into ‘Don’t Stop’ The Stone Roses stop for a breather, a pit stop before the rhythm section ease into ‘Shoot You Down’. On record a beautifully understated piece, the live version tonight retains the essential groove but allows Squire to crank up the volume. Shards of guitar are tossed out, adding an edge, a crackling energy to the performance.

It’s funny how each track changes. Sure, the audience knows each word, each guitar lick, each snare crack but The Stone Roses somehow find a way to craft something unique. Mani begins toying with his bass, cranking out something funky before the band join him, Reni splashing around behind his kit.

From nowhere, ‘Fool’s Gold’ erupts over the heads of the crowd, the band speeding up it’s effortless, swaggering tempo. Pushing further and further ahead, The Stone Roses play with the track, jamming like they’re in the rehearsal room. John Squire drops in the riff of ‘Day Tripper’ before turning his back on the crowd. Hammering at the guitar, the sheer noise assault is bracing, shocking, turning the laid back groove of the track on its head.

Thanking the crowd, Ian Brown name checked Bradley Wiggins – “the King of England!” - and Jessica Ennis - “the Queen of England!” - before leading the band into ‘Something’s Burning’. Squire then switches guitars, reaching for his slide to crank out the Zeppelin style riffing on ‘Love Spreads’ only pulling back enough for Ian Brown to throw in a few verses of ‘Paid In Full’.

‘Made Of Stone’ rushes past in ice cool bravado, before the intro to ‘This Is The One’ breaks out. The most intimate show of The Stone Roses re-union, this definitely feels like a make or break moment. Shorn of the atmosphere which surrounded Heaton Park, you can really get close to the band and in the process peak behind the mythos. Sure, they’re an archival object whose status in British pop music owes a large debt to cultural circumstance but at heart The Stone Roses contain all the trappings of a classic rock band without any of the negative baggage. Both now and the first time round, the group seem to indicate the re-invigoration of the Beat template – that four people really can change the world. When Reni spirals into the intro for ‘I Am The Resurrection’ and Ian Brown begins floating out paper planes across the heads of the crowd, you really do believe them.

Set list:

I Wanna Be Adored
Waterfall / Don't Stop
Shoot You Down
Fools Gold
Somethings Burning
Love Spreads (with Paid In Full rap)
Made Of Stone
This Is The One
She Bangs The Drums
I Am The Resurrection

Photo Credit: Pennie Smith

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