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LIVE REPORT: The Stone Roses Return
Nick Fraser , May 24th, 2012 09:10

Last night, the Stone Roses made their much-anticipated live return. Nick Fraser was there.

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Parr Hall is a venue that would only normally see the good folk of Warrington descending on it to see the likes of The Clone Roses (this Saturday) or The Saw Doctors (25th May) with their take on sub-Pogues roustabout Irishness but today it plonked itself firmly in the annals of music history with the first comeback gig of The Stone Roses.

The announcement came about 4pm with instructions to take along some Stone Roses memorabilia (T shirt, CD insert, tattoo - I'm not sure what counted) and wristbands would be given for free for a gig at 9.30pm. The news flew round Manchester and Liverpool and within a couple of hours the square outside was packed with people who'd not been so giddy since Spike Island - everyone that bit bigger and balder with their emotions on show for all to see. Shane Meadows was there filming the outpourings with a hefty film crew.

Cressa, the godfather of Bezalikes was dutifully posing for snaps throwing his best 'the skinny one out of Stereo MCs' poses as around 1,000 lucky folk took to drinking the bars dry before showtime. Not many gigs could claim an atmosphere like it – it was similar to the feel of Morrissey's first post-Smiths gig at The Wolverhampton Civic Hall.

Just as what the case in the band's heyday, there was no support. A simple stage set up had only Reni's impressive two kick drum kit sitting on a riser.

At 9.25pm Liam Gallagher swaggered in and took his place on the balcony setting off a Mexican wave of baggy beserkness. With little. ceremony Mani, John Squire, Ian Brown and Reni wandered onto the stage. Although it was exactly what everyone was expecting, said beserkness was ratcheted up a couple of notches.

'I Wanna Be Adored' was the obvious starter and fears of Ian Brown's voice not being up to it largely dissipated. There was little chat to the audience but the frostiness between Brown and Squire seems shattered as they shared the odd joke and got into their groove. Reni was wisely not sporting the headgear that launched a thousand plastic pint pots but little else had changed. Mani still looked like someone doing the haka - tongue out and stomping, resembling a bloke who'd won a competition to be in his favourite band. The crowd sang every word, willing Brown on to overcome his shortcomings. He passed the time doing that David Blaine 'ooh look I'm levitating things' and shaking some morris dancer style bells on sticks. His voice still manages to sound like he'd passed the microphone into the crowd for some topless fan to yell down but it wasn't a night for keeping score.

The set was heavy with tracks from and around their classic debut album, though 'Tightrope' was aired and 'Love Spreads' came out for the encore. There was no 'Fools Gold' and no 'I Am The Resurrection'. 'Made of Stone' was one of the few songs to get an introduction as it was dedicated "for the ladies"... but it was the 40 something blokes who were shedding the years along with a few tears.

People were still as gobsmacked on leaving - only the blokes selling hookie posters outside were a nod to the being an actual gig by a normal band. If they wanted to allay the fears of 200,00 ticket holders that their Heaton Park gigs are going to be anything less than they were praying for then they definitely did that. They ended in a line, arms aloft and took a theatrical bow. "And we're still good looking" were Ian Brown's last words as they disappeared from view. Stone Roses setlist:

'I Wanna Be Adored'
'Mersey Paradise'
'Sally Cinnamon'
'Made Of Stone'
'(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister'
'Where Angels Play'
'Shoot You Down'
'Tightrope'
'Waterfall'
'She Bangs The Drums'
'Love Spreads'