The Stone Roses. The Stone Roses. The STONE ROSES. How am I not overjoyed? how is this not the news I have been waiting for since that acrimonious break up in 1996?
The unmistakable sound of my halcyon days. John Squires’ pure jangling guitar like a clarion call for indie dreamers everywhere. Ian Brown, never the greatest singer, but whose words and delivery broke down the berlin wall dividing ravers and indie kids. The man who spawned a thousand Liams. Mani and Reni must not be overlooked either. Their funk rhythm and beats were the backbone of the group, never more gloriously displayed than in Fools Gold.
I would go to sleep every night listening to the eponymous first album, the hardest decision being whether to listen to the first or second side. I know, this was a time of the cassette. A cassette I might add I bought in a Woolworths. Another lost feature in our landscape, something else that has disappeared from our modern world.
I must confess my love for the Roses did take some time, I had to fully embrace the culture before I completely fell in love with them. I was working in London when I first heard them, thinking this is the place where everything happens first. Everything had always happened first in London. I had vowed to myself to be at the vanguard of the next music scene after being born just too late for punk. Of course the delicious irony was that it was happening 50 odd miles from where I grew up, Manchester. Madchester was the capital of indie dance and the emerging baggy culture. I watched from afar, learning about Spike Island and the Hacienda from front covers of The Face magazine. That bible of indie style and culture.
But catch up I did, and boy did I fall for the Stone Roses hard. They sang they wanted to be adored. And they got their wish. Their music to me was beyond compare, as harmonious as the Byrds or Simon and Garfunkel and as political as the Specials. Every note was sublime, utterly utterly glorious. Like all fans I sat through the five long years of the legal dispute with the record company Silvertone, hoping and praying and dreaming and willing the follow-up into existence.
The Second Coming. Was there ever an album more aptly named? To sum up the almost religious fervour and anticipation. And was there ever an album more instantly rejected? Yet when you really listened even though it was heavier and darker and more intense, it was another masterpiece. Just listen to Love Spreads and tell me it isn’t.
They toured again in 1995-6. I didn’t go and see them. For one reason only. Performing live was not their forte, and I was, still am, very prone to stop listening to bands if they can’t do it live. The Roses were too precious to me for that to happen, and so I stayed at home, I preserved their memory, enshrined in those two perfectly recorded albums, to be revered forever. Pristine and in tact, unblemished.
This is why I am not joining the ranks of the adoring fans queuing up to buy tickets tomorrow for their home-coming at Heaton Park next June. I can not have my cherished memories destroyed at this late stage now by something as prosaic as a poor live performance. My head says they can’t play any better live now, so reality now would only spoil everything.
But if they were to get it together live, am I ready for the reality of the voice of a 50 something grey haired man singing hymns to his disaffected youth, and not hitting the notes as he once (well almost) did? In all honestly I don’t want to remember them in any other way than those four fresh-faced Manc lads, because in my head I don’t feel any different to that girl who listened to their music every night to fall asleep and I don’t want that to change ever.