Heaton Park, Manchester, Saturday 30 June 2012
And so it's finally here, the weekend of the most hyped gigs ever. In the build up to these gigs, I have to confess to feeling a little bemused as to what all the fuss was about. Yes, The Stone Roses debut is a classic which still sounds fresh today but did anyone really expect the nation to go this batshit crazy for a band with one good album?
To be fair, all the talk of the Roses only having one good album are a little unfair. If you look at their back catalogue you'll notice they released a lot of singles before and after that debut and the Second Coming album wasn't that bad, was it?
Yet there's no doubt this band has a point to prove and the 225,000 punters at Heaton Park aside, there's a whole lot more just waiting for them to fail. Well, the bad news is they don't fail. They're not even just OK. In fact, they're absolutely awesome.
But first to the warm ups. After walking for what seemed miles through the park, I missed the first acts and arrived just in time for Professor Green. I had hoped to miss him if I'm honest, but was surprised to hear he's actually good live. Backed by a full live band, his sound is beefed-up and when he's joined by Lily Allen, the crowd swells. Fair play to him, it couldn't have been easy playing to that crowd but he pulled it off.
Next up are The Wailers. At this point, it seems as though someone has plugged in a giant Ambi Pur filled with weed as the stench stretches across the whole site. As I wander around, the smell is so strong in one area that it's possible those dancing think that's actually Bob Marley up there. With only one original member and the rest younger than me, this is nothing more than a tribute act.
Next up are Beady Eye. And next up are the pints of warm piss. What is it about the sound of Oasis' Morning Glory that makes a twat in a tracksuit want to throw piss in my directon? Dickhead fans aside, Beady Eye are OK, in a plodding sort of way. Liam's voice is getting worse and he just seems to be shouting. Along with 'Morning Glory', we're also treated to 'Rock 'n' Roll Star' and on both occasions Liam informs us that we're all 'fucking lucky'. As a can of piss hits me in the side, I can't say I'm feeling that lucky.
And so to the main event. It all starts off very casually, possibly down to the choice of the opening songs. While 'I Wanna Be Adored' is a classic, the pace is slow and when it's followed by 'Mersey Paradise' and 'Sally Cinnamon' there's a bit of a lull in the crowd. Ian Brown also looks a little bit rusty, shuffling around the stage in a leather jacket that possibly cost £10 from Manchester Arndale. He is nearing 50 now, and the grey is showing. I was starting to worry at this point.
A few songs in, though, and 'Ten Storey Love Song' lifts the crowd, closely followed by a mental version of 'Fool's Gold' that just goes on forever and not in a bad way. John Squire is having his rock god moment up there, while Mani and Reni just lock into that groove.
From here on it just doesn't let up. Brown has lost the dodgy jacket and the old funky swagger is back. There was a lot of talk about his voice before the weekend but I don't think he could have sounded any better. 'Waterfall' merges into 'Don't Stop' and is then followed by 'Love Spreads', another from Second Coming that goes down a storm. Brown even raps at the end and it is amazing - the sign of a band totally on top of their game.
'Made of Stone', 'This is the One' and 'She Bangs the Drums' remind you just how good that debut album was, and possibly why they struggled to follow it up. A quick 'Elizabeth My Dear' is followed by 'I Am the Resurrection', which is just sublime. Again Squire lets rip to remind us just how good a guitarist he is.
As I said, this band has a point to prove. The 'one good album' jibes, the dodgy last performance as Reading Festival and the poorly received second album. But if tonight is anything to go by, they're more than up for the challenge and if they can take this confidence into the studio, don't bet against a Third Coming.