Review: The Stone Roses at Phoenix ParkTweet
It’s pushing 9.25 and there’s a sense of restlessness growing among the 50,000 revellers in the Phoenix Park. Many are standing in mud up to their ankles (well that’s Ireland for you: even when it’s dry, it’s wet!) and, while The Wailers put in a solid show, they were less than inspiring, Mick Jones was great and The Minutes rocked out as we have seen them do for months now.
Then comes the moment that most of those in attendance have waited nearly two decades for. Ian Brown strolls out on stage with his arm already lifted in triumph. Mani, Reni and John Squire look similarly confident as they follow him. Launching immediately into I Wanna Be Adored, they seem to get their wish as a doting crowd belt out the lyrics almost before Brown can. In fact, the sound from the stage is somewhat drowned out by the mud-caked attendees. That is, until Squire gets a moment to indulge himself at the song’s outro.
This proves a theme for the night as outros for many songs are elongated with instrumentation. Tonight’s version of Fool’s Gold for example lasts about twelve minutes! As the song finishes some of the crowd howl for more, as though they are fulfilling a prophecy. Others are tired of the self-indulgence and just want another, different song.
All the while, Brown struts confidently around the stage. He has aged well – well, better than Squire or Mani anyway – and, with his leather jacket zipped all the way up, looks like the leading man Liam Gallagher has tried for so many years to emulate. For Shoot You Down, Brown departs the stage to meet the audience. He shakes hands with nearly every member of the front row; a smile beaming from his face the whole time. A man clearly loving his job.
Whether he’s a man at the top of his job, though, is another matter. During songs that aren’t met with a 50,000-man chorus, Standing Here or Something’s Burning for example, Brown’s voice seems limited. It’s certain that it’s not what it once was, but calling it bad would be harsh. With Brown not on top form and the rest of the band loving their instruments more than the audience seem to – even during She’s a Waterfall, Squire only seems to get interested when you’d think the song is due to end – the evening looks set to be a major disappointment. It is to their eternal credit, then, that they manage to turn it around for the last five songs.
Love Spreads kicks it off the turnaround in fantastic fashion. It still sounds to fresh and, dare I say it, has perhaps aged better than most of the band’s cannon. Made of Stone and This is the One again get the audience involved and the singalongs they become are pushing for the acclaim of the evening’s high point.
That award though is reserved for the last song of the evening. Following She Bangs the Drum and the interlude of Elizabeth My Dear, flares light up in the crowd and lasers shoot across the late summer dusk. Even without the tired cliché of exiting before an encore, everyone knows what’s coming.
And when it comes, I am the Resurrection is fantastic. It sounds every bit one of the best songs of all time, and the four on stage and 50,000 on-lookers get into it entirely. In this instance, the eight-plus minutes of the song doesn’t seem long enough because everyone knows what is coming after. The music ends and the lights come up and everyone is faced with a tired walk into town with the last of the public transport having already departed. The memories of the close to the set lighten moods and heavy legs for the long, slow trudge home.
The Stone Roses Photo Gallery
Photos: Kieran Frost