Come mid-afternoon the walkways and thoroughfares around the Green had turned from empty, chud-strewn slabs into pocket dens of festering hell bent delirium. Find yourself upstream against the crowd along the Saltmarket and you were caught among braggart swagger, bucket hats perched atop bulging eyes, anticipation a plenty. And that was just the women.
One week before the summer solstice, rainclouds unbudged the day the Stone Roses returned to Our Dear Green Place. Glasgwegians gave up grappling with the weather donkey’s years ago – to us a few raindrops deserve no heed. As one of Glasgow’s famous exiles, Billy Connolly, once said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing, so get yourself a sexy raincoat and live a little.”
With cagools zipped to the chin, by 9pm Saturday night, the 50,000 throng were on the verge of living a lot. For a band whose last release was coming up on 18 years ago, and with more chance of Bobby Gillespie, just prior, taking to the stage with an afro, than any new material being played on the night, it’s all perfectly illogical the devoted fidelity the Roses have perpetually garnered in and around their long hiatus.
Earlier in the day, The View and Jake Bugg, handpicked as support by the Stone Roses themselves, served up a nice double entrée to the main course. Dundonian rock and East Midlands leading-edge indie cool crossed over the generation gap and back again, as the crowd weren’t short of getting to grips with the lyrics of either set. Bugg’s Lightening Bolt was given the loudest sing-a-long treatment of all. Not too bad for a fella only born in the year of Second Coming, cementing that old Match of the Day favourite, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
Young lads barely out their teens with Weller (circa Eton Rifles) haircuts and Quadrophenia Parkas brazenly snorted coke off debit cards and checked the sweetie count in the middle of Bugg’s set. One of the mod squad had clearly overcooked it and succumbed to being unpopular playing bouncy bodies against all the ladies in the vicinity. Fair to say sex, drugs and rock‘n’roll never gets old.
Maybes the same can’t be said for the Madchester Four, yet no matter, as no one round here was throwing around the ageism card. Those present who could tick the ’35-50′ box were revelling in their years, and comparisons to 1990 were hot on the lips. “Britain was shite then, and it’s shite noo,” so came a fervent croak from the crowd as Primal Scream tried to rally the socialist troops and old ravers amidst Country Girl and Swastika Eyes. “Poll Tax…Bedroom Tax, Tory Government…Tory Government!” You said it brother was the consensus.
No doubting The Stone Roses have came a long way from mid-‘80’s debut entry, So Young; perhaps not in back catalogue, but in formulating a mass cult adoration that finer, longevous bands like The Charlatans failed to muster, or what The Mock Turtles and Soup Dragons could never even dream about back in the heady baggy days. Those old enough to recall will vouch that Candy Flip and seminal were never uttered in the same breath.
You only had to follow the crazy prices tickets were being sold for on eBay leading up to the gig, perpetuated by the column inches in the nationals to get the sense of attention avid ticketholders and even non-muso journalists were prepared to lavish on Brown & Co. Even the double rainbow and rose-tinted sky post-deluge, five minutes before their appearance made the whole Green feel like a tab trip from ’91. When the weather starts doing funky shit, taking the crowd to a higher plain, you know something special is about to happen…
The Supremes Stoned Love and a drone from a kilted piper ushered in the excitement, sending any who were meandering round the edges scuttling into the thick of it, as red-flared smoke fogged the liquor drenched atmos. “You make your own fucking folklore,” was the cry behind me, as Mani’s bass line kicked off I Wanna Be Adored…
Brown’s bum notes, Mani’s cheeky quips, Squire’s floppy do and Reni’s Reni-isms have and will be churned out in quickfire reviews just like this one… But for anyone who was there, am sure I speak for them all when I mentioned to Ian Brown at 4 a.m the next morning, “Don’t leave it so long next time eh, lads.”