I don’t know what it was that made me need to go and see The Stone Roses on Sunday, I had already documented my distrust of my judgement. The impulsive last-minute change of heart, concern over my health, and scepticism over whether the Roses could pull it off. The same force that mysteriously rid me of symptoms to allow me to attend Glastonbury last year appeared again, minimal side effects from chemo #2. Manchester had become a parody of itself for the weekend. Tens of thousands of pilgrims, young and old had donned the uniform of 20+ years ago, thronged to one of Manchester’s finest parks to see if to see if the magic that surrounded their debut ’The Stone Roses’ album of 1989, or were to resurrect themselves from the eternal crucifixion, a label cruelly affixed to their name by the NME at the time of the release of ’Second Coming’ prior to their acrimonious split back in the early nineties.
A five-hour session of people watching in the sunshine preceded the main event. This was not just Manchester’s day, nor the sole domain of the over 40’s reliving their youth. Whether the wardrobe had been ransacked or Affleck’s raided, nineties fashion was back. The young were embracing every drop of the atmosphere, the old were walking around with grins on their faces not seen since the heady days of MADchester, Many would clearly have been better advised to remember that it was 20 years since they had indulged, during the second summer of love. Social networks had been buzzing all weekend, armies of Roses fans were descending from all over the country. Accents were aplenty, everyone wanted to spread the excitement that filled the air. The Scots were on their warm up weekend for T in the Park next week, and by the looks of it they were simmering nicely. Their humour, persistence, insistence and inbred nuisance ensures that drain every last drop of enjoyment until they finally hit the floor. Plenty had ventured near the edge this weekend, but thankfully most stayed the right side of it.
There was no sign of the poor organisation that had flooded from Heaton Park on Friday, Nor the rain of Saturday. The sun was out, wellies more for the fashion statement than necessity. By nine o’clock the place was……. Buzzin’ , as they say in these parts. As the sun finally disappeared from the north Manchester skyline and dropped below the award-winning landscape and neoclassical country house, the Roses were about to demonstrate just exactly what it is that brought about this most unlikely reformation. What was it that lured Mani from an enviable much-lauded stint with primal Scream. What was it that convinced Squire to turn his hand from such inspiring visual artwork to enable the reunion of a band despite his previous statement that he had “no desire to desecrate the grave of the seminal Manchester pop group”. Reni had survived in the relative obscurity of the musical backwaters, twiddling his sticks since he became the catalyst for the break up of the Roses in the first place. And Brown? It’s like he knows where he is appreciated best, perhaps this is his place, perhaps this is where he knows he should be, strutting around the stage doing what he does best, rattling bells and tambourines. I’ll skip his shortcomings, it would be too easy to jump on the band wagon. We know he can’t hold a note, but we’ve still come to see him. And for every time he demonstrated his inability (and to be fair it wasn‘t that often), it was more than compensated for by the overall performance of the band. It was like the three of them had never been apart, as if they had been playing together every week of the past two decades. Reni and Mani were in glorious unison. Mani seemed possessed, almost trance-like as his fingers hit rhythms to perfectly reflect the passion and effort beaten out by Reni hiding under his array of head-gear. Their complete understanding of each other allowed Squire to, perhaps reluctantly, take centre stage and conduct proceedings with his supreme guitar work. Rarely I have seen someone take such command and demonstrate such ability, whilst looking so cool and laid back. He took ‘Fools Gold’ to places never thought imaginable before now. Easily exceeded 10 minutes and a demonstration of a musician in complete control of his audience. He was Knopfler, Richards, Jimmy Page, and when he picked up his Les Paul he demonstrated that there are only a handful of musicians who know how to get the best from it, and Squire is a deserved member of those elite few. To have seen The Stone Roses this weekend was all you needed to see why they have reformed. It is where each of them belong. Supremely performed by Squire, conducted by Brown, and held together by the hugely impressive Mani and Reni. Their enjoyment was clear for all to see, their embrace at the end was sincere, and even if Browns ‘best’ is not always ‘the best’, it’s The Stone Roses, and it shouldn’t be any other way. The Stone Roses nailed it, and I defy anyone to argue otherwise.
And hardly a mention of cancer, that’s how it should be too. There is no better way of taking your mind off things than an event like that. I think chemo #2 has been kinder to me, whether it’s the effect of increased steroids and anti nausea drugs, or just that the side effects came as less of a shock this time I don’t know. The peripheral neuropathy has become pretty constant, and has found it’s way to my feet, but it’s manageable and tolerable with plenty of gloves and socks. Heated wellies….hmmm there’s an idea. Special thanks to Louise for looking after me, I slept solidly until my 9.15am tablet alarm. Oh, and I found a butterfly in the car. My chemo pump has been disconnected, I’m free for another week. My only dilemma at the moment is Andy Murray about to win the first set in the tennis, or the last 5k of Le Tour. Murray won the set, Cavendish achieves win no 21. A good year for the Brit’s a good year for the Roses.