Sunday, 9 June 2013

Love Spreads at Finsbury Park

Me, Finsbury Park. N4. (Photo by @HungryTed.)
The Stone Roses.
Finsbury Park N4.
8th June 2013.

Yesterday was a day that had been taunting me for months on my calendar.

I had been looking forward to it for so long, surely it couldn't possibly live up to my hopes for the occasion?

 I bought my ticket back in October 2012 but yesterday was really something I'd been building up to since 1989.

Back then, my friend Sibbs had a C90 tape of this strange band from Manchester and I eventually gave it a listen.

 Pretty soon, all the people I hung about with were big fans and from then until now, the tunes of The Stone Roses have soundtracked the major events in my life.

I'm not alone in this respect.
Hundreds of thousands of people who were coming of age back then would have exactly the same experience.

I was aged just 21 in 1989, had absolutely no responsibilities and was ripe to fall in with this new 'Madchester' musical movement.

While never being a band to trouble the higher levels of the pop charts, The Stone Roses did manage to have their debut album universally regarded as one of the greatest ever to be committed to vinyl.

I love music and a music free day is a rarity.

When I 'discovered' the Stone Roses, it felt as if this was a perfect amalgamation of everything I'd already decided was the stuff I liked.

There were the unbelievably funky beats that I'd grown to love as part of the mid 80's Hip Hop explosion. I'd gone to see Public Enemy, Run DMC and The Beastie Boys in the previous years and quickly recognised the drum and bass patterns.

There were the amazing floating choruses that I recognised from The Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel and the Beach Boys.

There were the rocky (and funky) guitars I homed in on that reminded me of Psychedelic Furs, elements of Led Zep, James Brown and The Clash.

Finally, The Stone Roses had the swagger of provincial cool that was impossible not to buy into.
Each and every tune is a ready made terrace anthem.

In the recent Shane Meadows film Made of Stone, there's a bloke being interviewed about his love for the Roses, who really could be any one of us there on Saturday, (or Friday).

"You know it, I know it, ... but it's impossible to write it down"

The gathering in North London was almost like a religious meeting.

It's easy for those people who have been won over by the sappy Simon Cowell idea of 'music', to brush the Roses aside for being 'over rated,' or for being from a pre internet, pre mobile phone and pre social media time that is in their opinion, no longer relevant.

The most common stick to hit the Roses with is Ian Brown's vocals.

Even the most ardent fan could not fail to notice that his live performances can edge towards flatness.

If that's your reason for not liking The Stone Roses, it just proves you don't 'get it'.

In my opinion, it's like knocking Jackson Pollock number 5 because it's not much cop as a landscape picture or Picasso's cubist pictures for being childlike.

Who cares?

Once the Supremes tune, 'Stoned Love' blared out over the speakers, we all knew The Stone Roses were seconds away.

They bounced onto the stage, Ian Brown instantly owning it as his Simian Stroll strutted and posed in a way Liam Gallagher and Mick Jagger can only dream of.

Heaven on Earth.........

I Wanna Be Adored can stand up to any other opening track, on any other album.
It's also the traditional opener for Stone Roses shows and ensures proceedings start on a high.

Any weaknesses in Ian Brown's vocals were certainly not apparent, especially with a cast of over 50,000 backing singers.

The set list was as perfect as any of us could have hoped for.

I Wanna Be Adored
Elephant Stone
Ten Storey Love Song
Standing Here
Going Down
Shoot You Down
Fool's Gold
Something's Burning
Don't Stop
She Bangs The Drums
Love Spreads
This Is The One
Made Of Stone
Breaking Into Heaven
Elizabeth My Dear
I Am The Resurrection.

A mixture of tunes from before the first album, the eponymous debut album and also the Second Coming album.

Every tune was greeted like an old friend and as the cliche states, 'Grown Men Cried'.

We were treated to the aural onslaught while all around us the warm aroma of 'green' was keeping the atmosphere mellow.
* (The only drugs our group were using were Imodium and Fishermen's Friends, though we had made pretty good use of the drinks bar...)

By the time I Am The Resurrection was being belted out, Brown's voice was beginning to go but nobody was bothered.
The crowd carried him through in the same way a football crowd carries their team.

We'd commented a few times throughout the afternoon about how following the Roses felt like heading to an away game.
The only difference was the chanting wasn't directed at the opposition.

We all joined in again and again.

We were 'All In It Together' as Dave Cameron might say.

At the end of the show, bass player and Man U fan Mani, marched to the front of the stage and laughed into a microphone,
 "It's always nice to come to this part of North London. We usually leave with 3 points and a couple of your best players".

There were many people who had somewhat overdone it, either through chemicals or the beer tent. Escaping the swamp of urine and the phantom vomiters in the dark, was no mean feat as we attempted to leave the park.

Public transport was rather patchy and struggled to cope with the thousands of bucket hatted, inebriated middle aged farts, so we ended up joining a convoluted journey by bus, heading South towards London Bridge.

I can say with confidence, that it's the only time I've been involved in a mass singalong on the upstairs of a double decker bus since my days as a school kid, heading to the zoo on a school trip.

Thanks for your company Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni, (as well as my companions Hungry Ted, Crispy and Bolts).