The Roses in full-flow rehearsing Waterfall from Made of Stone is awe inspiring. If there were any doubters left, surely this moment of monochrome joy sent them off into the cotton clouds to planet have a word with yourself? Shane Meadows is way up close to the spray, capturing rarely seen cinematic intimacy of a seminal band, as John Squire asks Ian Brown, “what we doing first”?
A song that nests itself in your emotions, Waterfall’s opening chords scaffold a melody hardwired deep in the psyche of Roses fans, shimmering then gliding, as Mani and Reni lock tight round your hips. King Monkey takes you up over the view from the ledge, way past the estates; vocals like mercury, sung by a high-rise Shaman.
Filmed just before Heaton Park, I will never forget the rain chucking it down sideways on the day of the gig, drowning a wedding taking place at our hotel. Parka’d up, we ignored the downpour and had a ball. The last band before The Roses were The Wailers, who brought Bob’s timeless music up to the stage, and Jah, to fill the sky with sunshine. Jammin stopped the rain.
Ian Brown must have been happier than Bez in a pharmaceutical showroom.
At Finsbury Park, yours truly was whisked away in the sunshine by a woman who asked if I would have my photograph taken in a make-shift studio set up by Shane Meadows. Selecting a going-grey forty something was a decision they were soon to regret. Asked if I could say a few words about why The Roses were so special, half an hour later I was still babbling away about the best band in the world. It took three of them to get me out the trailer.
There were smiles and high fives all-round when Jonny Marr led the crowd through some Smiths numbers. A guitar slinger singing like he didn’t have a care in the world, reminding everyone how amazing he is and what a band The Smiths were. It's neck and neck between them and The Jam for the most prolific British singles band since the 60’s.
I couldn’t dig PIL as much as I had hoped too. I love some of the band’s music but they couldn’t connect with the crowd at Finsbury Park, the music and anger floating away on the breeze. I recently watched the Sex Pistols on tele, a re-run of their reunion show at Brixton Academy. Steve Jones still sounds like a one-man riff avalanche and I was transported back to my first days of really loving music. The Smurfs single suddenly an embarrassment, shoved away below my bed. The Pistols inspired me to pester my auld man until eventually he agreed to buy me an electric guitar for my Christmas. When I finally plugged it in, I was somewhat underwhelmed. Knowing nothing of amplification, distortion pedals or tuning; the weak plinky plonk twang limping out the 10-watt amp from my first strum wasn’t exactly the opening riff from Pretty Vacant. Still, I was on the path.
John Squire loved The Clash, proving at the Ally Pally he had long since overtaken Mick Jones as he ripped through I Am The Resurrection towards the end of a set that introduced the world to Fools Gold. Nothing short of mind melting on a night when most minds were already pretty melted. Before the gig, I bought a copy of ‘Made of Paper’, a Roses fanzine and sat down to have a flick through, only to discover reading was no longer a skill I could utilise. I could still take in the view overlooking London from atop the hill where the Pally is sat, and like Ian Brown sat on top of that inflatable globe at Spike Island, I really did feel on top of the whole damn madhouse. So yeah, maybe the gig wasn’t the best, but at 18 years of age the whole trip from Scotland was mint.
It’s not long now until The Roses return to the stage. We’re off to Glasgow to catch up with mates and see the band in a city that loves them. It should be as good a crowd vibe as any of the summer shows; Glasgow rarely offer anything other than heart on sleeve 200% commitment. It might even be sunny!
If your catching one of the Roses summer gigs, stick on your finest Colour Is Sound Tee and wear it well. Look after each other and make the most of it. You never know when this will all stop once and for all. The lemon and paint boys have been with us a long time; they are family. Through them we found what the world was waiting for and we passed it on. Let’s get ready to play our part and make these shows the best-vibed gigs ever.
As King Monkey stated at Heaton Park in relation to folks getting squashed down the front, “pick em up physically and metaphysically”.
It’s a beautiful thing.
Colour Is Sound appears on the listings <ahref="https://www.uksmallbusinessdirectory.co.uk/">UK Business Directory</a>