The Stone Roses at Marlay Park, Dublin, 9th July 2016
If life gives you lemons…plaster them up all over Manchester, and announce a come-back tour. As philosophies of life go, it’s not a bad one to subscribe to – particularly if you just happen to be one of the defining bands of the Madchester era. Having released two new tracks this year (solid if comfortingly genre-fitting), there could be no doubt that The Stone Roses’ Saturday night sojourn in Marlay Park would be a bucket-hatted meander through their back catalogue. The excitement of the crowd was palpable – The Stone Roses! Live! Here! However, the lemon of terrible sound quality did its best to sour the experience – and on the whole, succeeded.
It’s lucky for Ian Brown that his band have such ardent and word-perfect fans. Lucky, because throughout the gig, vocals remain indistinct – songs largely recognizable from bassline alone (cheers Mani) pushing the gig into the realms of outdoor karaoke. The Stone Roses need to be played loudly, but the volume just wasn’t there – instead, the opening trio of I Wanna Be Adored, Elephant Stone and Sally Cinnamon drift gently into the night air, whilst Brown hops around the stage brandishing a pair of maracas. It’s a dream of a setlist, segueing from Bye Bye Badman to Shoot You Down to Waterfall, but you can’t shake the feeling that someone needs to do an emergency Spinal Tap, and turn the volume up to 11.
The set does pick up midway through, the protracted breakdown of Fools Gold rescued by the energy of crowd-pleasers All For One and She Bangs The Drums (dedicated ‘to the ladies’) but whether it’s due to the poor sound quality or not, there seems a strange disconnect between crowd and band. The gig never really reaches its peak, Brown’s vocals are so flat to be one dimensional, and for a live performance it all feels very unsatiating. It’s like hearing the bassline of This Is The One from the front room at a house party, whilst you’re miserably stuck in the kitchen with a distant cousin – aching to go in and dance, instead sadly pondering saucepans and planning your escape.
The set closes out with I Am The Resurrection – which shouldn’t need an encore to round it off – but tonight it does, and there is none. The omission of latest single Beautiful Thing from the setlist seems a glaring oversight – particularly as it comes piped over the PA immediately as the band leave the stage, leaving a gaggle of confused fans to realise that it really is over, and that singing along to the recording is the best they’re going to get. Plenty of lemons tonight then – but no lemonade in sight.