In Martin Scorsese’s brilliant ‘No Direction Home’ Bob Dylan is asked about his relationship with Joan Baez. As if quoting from one of his own songs, Bob explains, “you can't be in love and wise at the same time”. A little later he states, ‘time changes everything’. Hang onto to Bob’s wisdom as you read this blog-post.
After three glorious days in Glasgow to see The Roses, we are back in Brighton. Beautiful Thing lifting the spirit underneath a dark overcast sky. Ian Brown’s solo acapella chorus of the same song on Saturday at Hampden, telling the crowd not to be “sad it's over, be happy that it happened", certainly suggests it’s game over (again). King come down is kicking in and I'm feeling fragmented. Are The Roses gone for good before the third album? For a while there have been whispers regarding health-issues and Reni not playing ball. (His son was quoted in a tweet during the show that the gig was the human octopus’s last hurrah). Then again, there was a Tweet from a fan who claims he asked John Squire if that was the last gig, to which he replied, “for now”. Add rumours of a new Ian Brown solo LP and the plot becomes thicker than a Mani bassline. One thing is for sure, no one can touch The Roses when it comes to creating life-affirming celebratory events where both they and the audience are all for one, one for all.
Our journey up from Brighton was routine, an otherwise non-descript flight enjoying a comedy moment when the pilot explained he was going to take a short-cut to try and make up for lost time. Short-cut at 36,000 feet? I was listening to The Roses classic b-side, Going Down, hoping the song was not to prove prophetic … “I’ve never flown in a plane, I’ll live until I die”, intoned Ian as I considered the possibility of hyper-space or a black hole above Manchester, arriving in Glasgow before we left Gatwick.
Friday evening was spent in the company of mates, beer and the use of a modified gas mask, which it’s best not to go into, suffice to say there were no Tory shenanigans; it was Rasta time. Saturday morning, we felt the burn until a Fish supper, washed down with a few cold ones, ensured we were declared fit to play.
The Record Factory in Glasgow organised a pre-and after gig party plus buses to and from Hampden. Steve Adj, The Stone Roses soul stroker and tour manager was present to regale the crowd with tales of his time with the group. I met him briefly to pass on my thanks for some of the best nights of my life, presenting him with our ‘Paris 68’ tee as a gift. Steve’s can’t rememoirs were class, even if he was up against a busy noisy venue by the time he got on the mic. ‘Wearing Flares and Throwing Chairs’ could prove to be the best book yet written about the band.
Clint Boon from the Inspirals was also there and I asked him if he could remember their gig at Strathclyde University in November 1989 when fire alarms were set off and the building was evacuated. I was only 16 and unware of the heroic dose properties of magic mushrooms. Fermented in honey, nature’s liberty caps digested in my stomach on route to the penal gland. By the time the Fire Brigade appeared, I was so far gone I had no idea what was real and what wasn’t. Until Saturday the 24th of June 2017, I had no idea that there had been a riot. Punters were lobbing bottles at the stage only for Clint and Noel Gallagher (their roadie, hidden behind speakers) to lob them back. Thanks for brining me up to speed Clint!
We arrived at the stadium just in time to catch Steve Mason. I love the Beta Band and was over the moon for the fella to get the chance to play at such a great gig. However, the shambles which was Hampden, it’s security, organisation and so-called hospitality, meant we were somewhat distracted during his set.
What sad sack fuck came up with the idea of queuing to get tokens, only to then que again to get a beer? Tokens which cost £5.50, exchanged for a can of fucking Tennent’s lager, from bars that closed at 9.45. It’s a miracle no was crushed trying to get to the overcrowded toilets or that tempers didn’t fray and it properly kicked off. Hampden has seen its fair share of queues, fights, overcrowding and drunk people. Surely the blazer brigade can organise a piss up in a brewery? It was an absolute joke.
Primal Scream arrived on stage to a hero’s welcome, blasting through a greatest hit’s set with enough boogie to get the dead up dancing. Sheer class, having a piper come on after the Scream to play ‘Flower of Scotland’, a nice touch before the sky turned green then blue, red and yellow as a barrage of flares turned the stadium into a pop-art installation.
Mani’s Adored bass line gave us the signal and the place went ballistic. Often, you couldn’t hear the vocals, so loud was the Hampden roar. I’d say at least a third of the choir were not even born the first time the Roses played in our fine city back in May 1989. The Roses have been passed on like a cultural code, a rite of passage, a soundtrack that coaxes your very own swagger from the shadows.
Down on the park it was a different story. Peaceful drunken drug fuelled positive vibes, flares (not the 1989 chord and denim numbers), bucket hats and dancing. Three generations of ravers coming together to create a brilliant atmosphere.
For the record, I thought the band were brilliant. It’s their connection with the people, and those songs. A set list hardwired to your DNA, lifting your soul way above the bullshit that surrounds us in 2017. Love spreads; and on Saturday at Hampden, quicker than wild fire. As you hear and read rumours about what’s next for Ian, John, Mani and Reni, just remember this; you can’t be wise and in love at the same time.
GOD BLESS IAN BROWN
GOD BLESS THE STONE ROSES
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