Hats Off To The Stone Roses

The progenitors of Britpop came to Marlay Park in Dublin yesterday – and the crowd lapped it up. Report: Anne Sexton

There’s a singalong on the Number 16 bus as we head to The Stone Roses at Marlay Park. A group of lads start a rousing, if somewhat off-key, version of ‘She Bangs the Drums’ while necking back cans good humouredly. It’s a foretaste of what’s to come.

It’s a beautiful day in Dublin. People are cheerfully drinking pints, and lounging on the grass in this south Dublin redoubt. There are bucket hats as far as the eye can see, and it feels like a sun holiday, circa 1990. The average age of the crowd skews a little older, but there’s a manic energy in the air nonetheless. They say there’s no party like a middle-aged party and the adage rings true — these are prisoners on day release from childcare, from mortgages, from jobs, and they are determined to have a good time. And why not?

The band takes to the stage, opening with perennial favourite ‘I Wanna Be Adored’. As the vocals kick in, it the thought strikes me that Ian Brown may have strained his voice playing T in the Park the night before. Brown has never had the greatest of vocal ranges; instead his voice is a window into his soul. Tracks like ‘Shoot You Down’ and ‘Fools Gold’, with the rhythm section of Mani and Reni holding it down superbly, require almost deadpan vocals and during these he sounds fine; on others, he is clearly struggling. But the show must go on, and so it does. It hardly matters — he has thousands of back-up singers. All around me people are singing-along and dancing – and having a great time.

The Stone Roses originally burned brightly, but briefly. They were working class heroes who conquered the charts and paved the way for Oasis and the Britpop juggernaut. It’s been more than twenty-five years since they broke through, but John Squire on guitar has only got better, and songs like ‘Elephant Stone’, ‘Sally Cinnamon’ and ‘Waterfall’ don’t sound dated — at least no more so than they did when they were released. The Roses, with their Northern Soul, 1960s pop and psychedelic influences, always came with built-in nostalgia. It has served them well, and almost every song sounds like a beloved classic, not a throwback.

The sky above Dublin turns to dusk as the band finishes with ‘I Am The Resurrection’. It’s a statement and a promise. As the music fades away, Ian Brown lifts up his arms, bows and receives rapturous applause. It is no more than they deserve. The Stone Roses don’t have fans — they have devotees.

• Anne Sexton

*All of our great photos from the night can be seen by clicking here.

 

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