Saturday, 18 February 2012

Reformation time [Part One]

My brother and my sister have tickets to see The Stone Roses. They bought them when they were announced. They didn’t buy me one. Now this in itself is no bad thing. When I read in the pages of The Guardian that Ian, Reni, John and Mani [sort of has a ring to it – but it’s no John, Paul, George and Ringo] were calling all the hating off and journalists started writing up fawning pieces on how the late eighties witnessed the coming together of tribes and the roses as the ones who united to save us all through their fusion of funk and fucking attitude.

I started to worry that I wouldn’t recognise the crowd – the feeling in that place. That big open space in Manchester.

Now there are many bands I have not seen – in fact I think I have written about that somewhere on here – but I never had the chance to see the Roses. Emma has. She saw them at Spike Island. This was before we met. And Rob saw them – he told us about them – he’d seen them in Coventry – at the university. All jangles and attitude – saw the light – the second coming [geddit?] But I remember that sudden shift – there’s talk that it was all down to that TOTP Mondays / Roses edition – but that certainly is after the event. Besides the North suffered a temporary blackout on that Thursday back in the late 80s – the signal just stopped and the television went off.

We didn’t see it. I think we went to the pub – instead.

But there was a change a comin’. We wanted to dance [and have some fun] and you couldn’t do that to Lush and MBV. You could shake your head – possibly jump up and down – but you couldn’t dance, dance, dance. The Scream had gotten close with Sonic Flower Groove – they would pretty much rewrite it all with Screamadelica – but this was still in its infancy. The Stone Roses were all swagger and style – seemingly arriving out of nowhere and setting the pace.

It was everything a band should be. A gang. The Stooges and the Family Stone all rolled into one.

There were walk offs, and chart show clips, front covers and interviews – but it seems that good old conversation pushed the Roses into our consciousness. And here they are again – back in the press and we’re talking about them.  I remember a trawl uptown – early days in the city – Lewisham to the last stop – and a wander up Charing Cross road – and there was Mani, Reni and John – carrying a massive boxed ghetto blaster – all cardboard and heaviness – they were the other side of the road – where The Marquee used to be. Taking a breather and looking around for something. And they just looked so different – you eyes were drawn to them. But I was crossing the road – so I looked away – straight into Ian Brown’s eyes – that simple acknowledgement that he was a star but also one of us. A nod – half smile – reciprocated and moved on. The Stone Roses taking up both sides of the road. Totally assured and utterly hip.

Will they be able to it again? I guess they have to – it all ended fairly messy - in missed cues and notes – ramblings and ramifications. I have to be honest – I think I’ve played The Second Coming more than the first long player – it’s got this real heavy groove at the heart of it. Yes, I recognise there’s indulgence but even the build into Breaking into Heaven works – so it’s reminiscent of the opening to Welcome to the Pleasure Dome [Liverpool did it first?] – but the whole long player is done with finesse – all riffs and rolls – building to Love Spreads  - well The Foz actually – but lets say it ends at Track 12 and not Track 90. And in between this band of brothers unite to take this small nation under a groove – from burning south swamp rock and blues – where the devil will give you all the best tunes and through the feral funk of Begging You – with it’s repetitive loops and Hey Bulldog bass lines mixed with a Brown at his in your face Lydon scowling best – into Good Times [my friend]– that shouter of fun , falling into hate and bitterness with How do you Sleep which simply documents the fragility of friendship, of six string relationships and strung out nights –until they ultimately spread some love around.

Which they will again

And all that energy is still there – it took five years to get there through courts and concerts, much like that other reforming troupe – The Beach Boys. Two decades of pills, writs and heartache to be united around the globe in slacks and shirts and Love’s baseball cap – I’m hoping that the Stone Roses will be wearing better gear.

And so it goes

If one band reforms then they all come crawling out the woodwork. Although Shed Seven have seemingly never gone away – nor the Bluetones if I come to think of it. But there’s a reformed Mondays playing the clubs [rocking the pubs] and the Inspirals and even the fucking Farm playing Spartacus ‘in its entirety’. It’s as if we are returning to Thatcher’s E fuelled end of the eighties were nothing much mattered apart from dancing and getting one over the police. Whilst I welcome a roses revival but aren’t going to go to it – and I’m feeling embarrassed at the thought of Love offering fake platitudes to Wilson in concert halls as bank balances burst – but I’ll be sitting in the front row helping that circus along – I’m not sure if a nostalgia filled landscape of musical highs from our youth and our parents youth will help this ‘pop’ thing along.

I hope that it inspires some youth to think that all of this is from an another era – its Jurassic – you know Dinosaurs and all that – like it did the three Johns from Kilburn. I hope it does – like the landscape at the time of the Roses when being a fully-fledged star was seen as somewhat arrogant and certainly not in keeping with the independent tradition. 

Sometimes you can be in the right place at the right time.

I hope that field in Manchester will be it this Summer. The past was theirs and now the future’s ours – or something like that.