“Don’t be sad it’s over, be happy that it happened,” announced Ian Brown in typically pithy style, adapting the words of Dr Seuss to fuel speculation that this was to be The Stone Roses’ last ever gig. Wise counsel too, given that this was far from the best that the Roses had to offer. But when the band of a generation, subsequently adopted by ensuing generations too, rides into town, their shows become more gathering than gig.
The Stone Roses ***
Hampden Park, Glasgow
So as hearty as the crowd singalong to a pipe version of Flower of Scotland was, it had nothing on the massed rendition of the Roses’ traditional curtain-raiser I Wanna Be Adored which completely drowned out Ian Brown’s muffled vocals (possibly mercifully).
Meanwhile, the enthusiastic use of coloured flares set off in the crowd temporarily obscured the view for most of the audience in the kind of shambolic turn of affairs which has dogged this band for years without ever dampening the fans’ ardour.
The stadium bowl did not favour their sound. The blithe, trippy indie pop of Elephant Stone sounded, well, elephantine, with Reni’s deft drumming ricocheting around the terraces, while the sweet love song Sally Cinnamon was divested of its innocent charms. Who knows, the picture from down on the pitch could have been entirely different but, regardless, the band played on, powering through an indie pop catalogue which has reverberated down the decades, with the best reaction, as expected, reserved for the tracks from their debut album. Sugar Spun Sister and Shoot You Down just about escaped intact but Waterfall’s backwards coda Don’t Stop came over like a sonic dog’s dinner, culminating in a very bizarre handjive from Brown.
Interest rapidly waned when they broke out their rockier, riff-based material such as the stodgy boogie of All For One, but the sultry Fool’s Gold, jammed out into a funk-powered wah-wah wonderland, was the honourable exception.
There were no great concessions to the occasion, though Made Of Stone could justifiably be deemed A Moment. Brown, in the excitement and euphoria, lost all concept of pitch during She Bangs the Drums and the epic This Is The One but recovered sufficiently to deliver the closing flourish of I Am the Resurrection, which successfully married the two sides of the Roses, their soaring singalong tuneage with John Squire’s guitar heroics. There were touching group bear hugs all round at the end, appearing to confirm that it was all over bar the memories.