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READ: Extract from John Robb's Stone Roses book
The Stone Roses: The Reunion Edition is out now.
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 23 Apr 2012
John stands there on stage looking cool as fuck, tousled hair, guitar slung, ready to go. The already-electric atmosphere is now cranked up a lot of notches. Everyone realises that this is a moment of pop culture history, the return of the Roses.
Mick has asked them to play ‘Elizabeth My Dear’, the very direct antimonarchist song off their classic début album. What a perfect moment; a strong political statement and not one of the obvious hits. It’s just like the comeback for Second Coming when they ignored the mainstream and only gave the Big Issue an interview, a statement of where they are coming from, using their power in a good way and never taking the easy, obvious route.
The song starts with John playing the guitar line with an effect on it that gives it an almost sitar-like drone and then Ian intones the words and the ‘Scarborough Fair’ melody. He sings in that great nasal, almost folk English voice of his that adds to the ballad’s English folksiness, giving it an ancient air. It could have been written hundreds of years ago and makes you think about the power of song and the way that protest songs have been so much part of our culture for such a long time.
Then Mick Jones, Pete Wylie and The Farm join the pair on stage andthey run through ‘Bankrobber’ with Ian Brown singing and then The Clash version of the Willie Williams’ 1978 reggae classic ‘Armageddon Time’. It sounds great, and the Roses pair are on form. Ian Brown does his Ali shuffle to break the ice while John Squire trades smiles and guitar licks with Mick Jones, who is grinning like a Cheshire cat. After the show Mick says Squire is a real joy to play with. ‘He’s so intuitive, the way he plays around you, an amazing guitarist.’
Even with only half the band on the stage, The Stone Roses are back in business. The story isn’t over yet."