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The Stone Roses, The Wailers - Phoenix Park, Dublin

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ATL | 14:12 UK time, Friday, 6 July 2012

Stone Roses at Phoenix Park, Dublin


The Stone Roses
Phoenix Park, Dublin
Thursday July 5th, 2012

After 16 long years in the making, one of the most unforeseeable and widely sought musical reunions is firmly underway.

Breaking all records to become the fastest-selling concerts in UK history, Madchester pioneers The Stone Roses are together at last to offer a long-awaited dose of nostalgia to their elated legions of fans. Now, a mere four days after their rapturous three-date homecoming stint at Manchester’s Heaton Park, the thirteenth date of the band’s headline-stealing reunion tour comes to Phoenix Park, Dublin.

With reggae legends the Wailers having instilled a feel-good atmosphere in ways only they can, The Stone Roses, innumerable days since their split in 1996, emerge via the glorious opening chords of ‘I Wanna Be Adored’ to nigh on euphoric applause. All thanks to the song’s timeless anthemic quality, 45,000 people are effectively transported back to 1991, a typically “self-assured” Ian Brown parading the stage and working the crowd with absolute ease. A brief thank you and a defiant waved fist in the air later, the band launch into the simple jangle-pop of ‘Mersey Paradise’ (an early highlight) and the serene groove of ‘(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister’. Whilst perhaps lacking a certain liveliness, there is no denying that the magic is still there.

With Brown waving jingle sticks in unison to his trademark monkey-style dance, and Squire stood supremely self-possessed to his left on guitar, the band’s much-loved, eccentric rhythm section in Reni and Mani lock in during the joyous ‘Sally Cinnamon’. With Brown’s passionate ‘You are my world” being bounced back to him by an ocean of fans, a riff-heavy Who-esque interlude impresses before ‘Where Angels Play’ sees a slight lull in spite of its crowd-seducing chorus. Indeed, only three songs in and Brown coolly saunters down to interact with the crowd, wearing their hats and shaking outstretched, ecstatic hands like a prophet. The man is, as ever, duly adored.




 Regaining upbeat momentum via the beautiful chord changes of ‘Bye Bye Badman’, it’s apparent that the Stone Roses cannot be faulted musically tonight, even if Brown’s vocals fall a little flat on numbers that are essentially quietly sung. That said, with his asking for a wave from the masses “at the back”, it soon feels like the whole crowd are involved just before ‘Ten Storey Love Song’ stirs the biggest response since ‘Adored’ and the all-out guitar rock of ‘Shoot You Down’’ crashes off into the night with Brown abruptly muttering in characteristically cool, Mancuncian fashion, “Thank you, yeah?”.


Working their way through a set comprised of hits and lesser known material the Stone Roses are a band that have unquestionably recaptured the spirit and anthemic vigour that warrants their legendary status. Sounding as tight as they’ve ever been – Reni, in particular, never missing a trick – well-rehearsed breakdowns and psychedelic interludes on the likes of a wonderfully extended ‘Fools Gold’ – probably the four-piece’s most recognisable song – sees Hendrixian solos, a groove-heavy, jam-like approach akin to Cream and a little bit of the Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper’ thrown in for good measure.

As night had suddenly fallen during its fifteen-minute unravelling, coloured lasers burst through the smoke before Brown summons massive cheers by muttering, “That’s the Co. Kildare genes” in reference to Mani’s Irish heritage. With a tangible feeling of overjoyed unity having set in, the bobbling glory of ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Don't Stop’ rear their head next, the latter basically the rhythm track to the former run backwards with different vocals. With legendary Pogues’ frontman Shane MacGowan suddenly seen to be happily mingling amongst the hoi polloi, the Zeppelin-like slide blues of ‘Love Spreads’, with Brown’s passionate refrain of “The Messiah is my sister’ and the ecstatic ‘Made of Stone’ proving two real latter-day set “moments”, Mani and Squire trading coy and – dare it be said – jovial glances as seen on the big screen.

With the set nearing its end and Brown having suddenly shed his jacket, 'This Is The One' crystallises the long-awaited, deliriously-anticipated sense of occasion tonight, its whispered crescendo and release seeing all four members of the Stone Roses yield to a new-found display of energy and intent. Chilled and belting at the same time, with the crowd chanting the in choral fervour, it’s self-evident that 5 chords, 7 words and a 4/4 timing is more than enough to sway and enamour thousands. “Dedicated” to "Queen Elizabeast … the Queen of Queen Witches", the familiar anthemic surge of ‘She Bangs The Drums’ precedes brief fingerpicked ballad ‘Elizabeth My Dear’, Brown’s clear-cut anti-royalist sentiment meaning little to tonight’s crowd; the music itself, by far and away the main occasion for the fans.

At the end up, just under two hours since they took to the stage, one of the band’s most loved songs and the closing track from the legendary 1989 debut album, ‘I Am The Resurrection’ concludes proceedings in what is the most intense and passionately well-received song of the night. With its blissful, hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck refrain, it’s a ten-minute culmination of what’s been building up over almost twenty songs tonight. Having adorned Mani in an Irish tricolour and shouted, "Ireland, you’re the best – don’t forget it”, Brown and the rest of the Stone Roses huddle together to hug in a wonderful display of unanimity. With the former starting the crowd to sing ‘Molly Malone’ and proudly uttering “Thank you. Like Fu Manchu we will return", the end of this chapter of the Stone Roses’ long-awaited new beginning has begun.

Brian Coney
Pic: David Barry

Stone Roses play Vital in Belfast at Boucher Playing Fields on August 22


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