Having split so bitterly back in 1996, the reunion of The Stone Roses, announced at the tail end of 2011, may be the band’s best career move, to date. With only two albums to their name, the band now have two motion-pictures in which they star, the first of which – a documentary following the Madchester legends since 2011, directed by Shane Meadows. And the second, entitled ‘Spike Island’, a narrative that follows a group of teenage fans’ journey to experiencing 1990’s infamous show at Spike Island. Also achieving an incredible multitude of gig ticket sales, mainly to those that hadn’t managed to catch the band during their peak. So when The Supremes’ ‘Stoned Love’ came flushing from Finsbury Park’s sound system, it would be fair to say that the atmosphere of utmost excitement was to an absolute maximum.
Opening with the emphatic bass rumble of the perfect opener – ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, the mass sing-along made up for the fact that frontman Ian Brown’s vocals sounded distinctly weathered, as compared to last year’s weekend at Heaton Park. But the prolonged guitar licks on John Squire’s part certainly made up for Brown’s mishap. After a shaky start, rarer outings such as ‘Breaking Into Heaven’ saw an impressive return to form from the band, following album tracks such as ‘Going Down’ and ‘Elephant Stone’, having remained clear of the band’s set lists since the 1990s. A brave move, when singles such as ‘Sally Cinnamon’ were nowhere to be seen. Played alongside classics such as ‘Waterfall’, and its successor ‘Don’t Stop’, as well as ‘Made Of Stone,’ ‘She Bangs The Drums’, and “Love Spreads’ with it’s wah-wah heavy guitar riff, managing to invite a large portion of fans to imitate Brown’s now iconic, swaggering “monkey dance”. While a definitive highlight came with their debut album’s ‘This Is The One’, showcasing the astounding musicianship of Squire, Mani, and Reni at their songwriting peak.
As expected, absolutely no hints to any new material were dropped into their performance, following an impressive, Smiths filled set from Johnny Marr, including renditions of ‘Stop Me’, ‘Big Mouth Strikes Again’, and ‘How Soon Is Now?’ Before unexpectedly closing his set with ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’. Soon followed by an extraordinarily eccentric set from John Lydon’s Public Image Limited.
Finally, The Roses’ second night in London rolled into a climatic culmination with a sustained rendition of fan-favourite ‘I Am The Resurrection’. The band’s tuning was looser than the admission fee may have suggested, as Squire and Mani’s stringed instruments fused to form a trippy, jam-session sending the tracks vocals into audial no-man’s-land, but even the worst of performances couldn’t have spoiled the electric atmosphere from the monumental crowd. The quartet haven’t always lived up to the best of live reputations, but the element of nostalgia, alone, is enough of an excuse to celebrate a cultural phenomenon such as The Stone Roses.