Monday 11 December 2017

This Roses reunion is blooming great!

Ian Brown
Ian Brown
Ian Brown.
The remainder of the reformed Stone Roses (right) check in to their hotel.
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

It's the reunion no one thought would ever happen, but when the Stone Roses take to the stage of the Phoenix Park tomorrow night, 45,000 dreams will come true.

With no Oxegen festival or Slane Castle show taking place this summer, a big outdoor gig was needed to fill the gap -- and so the return of the legendary Mancunian band, who lit up the late 80s and early 90s, couldn't have come at a better time.

Adding to the palpable sense of occasion surrounding the Dublin show is the fact that their hometown gigs last week in Heaton Park, Manchester, were such a success, as I saw first-hand.

So how did the group who split so acrimoniously in the mid-90s after recording just two studio albums end up burying the hatchet?

As it turns out, the catalyst for the biggest story in music this year was not an offer the quartet couldn't refuse, but an emotional reunion at the funeral of bassist Gary 'Mani' Mounfield's Kildare-born mother in April of last year.

"A beautiful thing has come out of a really sad situation," revealed singer Ian Brown at a press conference to announce the reunion in London last October.

The reunion has broken all box office records. In 1996, Oasis sold 250,000 tickets for Knebworth in two days; the Roses shifted 225,000 for three nights in Heaton Park in 14 minutes, making these the fastest selling concerts in British history.

Already, some pundits have argued that they're staging the most successful comeback in musical history.

Last Friday, shortly after 9pm, Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni took to the stage in their hometown to the strains of 'Stoned Love' by Diana Ross & The Supremes for their first major UK appearance with their iconic line-up in 22 years.

Despite a rapturous reception from the crowd, the first few songs were dogged by a lacklustre sound.

Then, something magical happened as they performed the aptly titled 'Where Angels Play', a subtle song that recalls a time when great B-sides mattered.

It effortlessly segued into 'Shoot You Down' and for the remainder of the two-hour performance, the Stone Roses were on top of their game.

They delivered a totally mind-blowing version of their 1989 hit 'Fools Gold', an epic groove-laden dance song that earned them an appearance on Top of the Pops with Happy Mondays, a moment that the late Tony Wilson claimed was the moment when the 1990s began.

Parts of this show featured some of the best live musicianship I've ever seen, topped off with mind-boggling psychedelic visuals and even a spectacular fireworks display.

As great as the Roses were, some of the hyperbolic plaudits surrounding the weekend border on complete insanity.

Controversial conceptual artist Damien Hirst boldly states in the official programme notes: "The Stone Roses are more important than Picasso."

Many luminaries from the worlds of music and football have queued up with tributes. Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville, for instance, reveals how he got 'This is the One' to become the song that the team run out to at Old Trafford.

The resurrection continues this week. "After Manchester, Ireland is next on our list," Brown claimed last year. True to their word, the Roses road show rolls into Phoenix Park tomorrow.

They've certainly come along way from being unceremoniously bottled offstage in McGonagle's, where they were mistakenly booked for a heavy metal night in the former South Anne Street venue back in 1986.

The hordes descending on the Phoenix Park should be a lot more appreciative.

Rest assured, they're in for a treat. To quote the George Jones song made famous by Elvis Costello, it's gonna be a good year for the Roses.

The Stone Roses play Phoenix Park, Dublin, tonight. They'll conclude their tour at the Vital Festival, Belfast, on August 23. A Shane Meadows film about the reunion will be released later this year.

Irish Independent

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