Never Mind The Pollocks, Here’s The Stone Roses
The Stone Roses’ 1996-split has been well documented, and the subsequent solo-careers of Ian Brown and John Squire have almost served no other purpose than to cement The Roses’ demise. But in October 2011, everything changed as Brown declared, “This is a live resurrection. You’re all invited, so you’d better be there!” After an almost two-decade hiatus, The Stone Roses had at last returned. The Second Coming was here.
The last time that Stone Roses performed in Ireland was 1995, and tonight, the group’s return feels almost religious. In the distance, an electric crucifix from the previous week’s Eucharistic Congress procession towers over the Phoenix Park. And in the stadium, 50,000 fans are knee-deep in muck, most of these kitted out in rain-hats and Stone Roses tees, or sporting haircuts that footnote The Roses’ front man. Ian Brown was right: this was a live resurrection. And everyone had read the invite card.
Incredibly, since The Stone Roses called it a day more than fifteen years ago, a riptide of pseudo-religious sentiment has carried the band away. Like crusaders who waged war against the unbearably cool Manchester music scene of the 1980s, the group toiled against the oppression of black clothes, bleak lyrics and the nihilism that came with Ian Curtis’ death and the Blue Monday synths that followed. And just like a miracle, the sense of disbelief and wonder that the band will soon be on stage and performing to fans of old and fans of new – many so new, they were not born at The Roses’ peak – settles in the air as The Wailers conclude a fantastic set, leaving a packed audience alone to shuffle and shift in the descending restlessness.
And then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, they’re here!
Ten minutes late, Ian Brown, one arm raised victoriously and grinning, followed by Mani, Reni and Squire, struts onstage. And then, in an instant, as sudden as a light switch turning on, a throbbing bass permeates across the park and a cheer of recognition runs through the crowd as fans bellow (and prematurely bellow) the lyrics of ‘I Wanna Be Adored’. Of course, the possibility that the group might be anything but adored by this lot is laughable.
As Brown works his front-man magic, striding between both sides of the stage and jumping down momentarily to hi-five and shake hands with the front row of cheerers and chanters, Reni, Mani and Squire show that age hasn’t caught up with or compromised their talent. In fact, Squire’s indulgent guitar outros are a prominent feature throughout the night and even through the sea of front-man charisma, Brown occasionally appears to be a little sceptical as to what to do next; a quick jaunt down to the other end of the stage perhaps? This is obviously the rock star equivalent of ‘What do I do with my hands?’
The night ends, inevitably, with ‘I Am The Resurrection’, and despite its almost ten-minute run time, this evening’s disciples are more invigorated than they were an hour ago. Because the closer we edge to the closing note, the closer we edge to a dream ending. A dream that so many people here have waited almost two decades to come true.
The four-pack assemble centre-stage at the song’s close and hug one another, pumping their fists in triumph, hugging again and thundering a farewell chant of ‘In Dublin’s Fair City…’ The lights turn on and with them the dream that no one thought could ever come true evaporates into the nightmare of Dublin transport.