The Stone Roses in Newport

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The story of The Stone Roses' gig in Newport in 1995, which culminated in a riot after a bad choice of shirt.

Last updated: 13 July 2010

It was 4 December 1995, at the Newport Centre venue, when an innocent gesture by an avid Stone Roses fan caused a near riot.

Touring their second album, The Second Coming, the band (minus drummer Reni by that point) were still a big draw, despite the lukewarm reception to the album.

Photo: David Hardacre

They already had a connection to Newport, having recorded half their first album at the nearby Rockfield studios in Monmouthshire, and the majority of the stop-start sessions of The Second Coming too. They'd hung out in Newport and the famous cherubs from the town's bridge also made an appearance on the album's CD design.

On the night of the gig, a young student called Nick Fisk was in attendance, wearing shirts representing his two passions of the time. One was a Stone Roses and the other a gold Cardiff City FC away shirt. Fisk takes up the story. "I went to the gig with the Cardiff shirt on top and a Stone Roses 'What The World Is Waiting For' shirt underneath. After what I thought was a particularly good rendition of Breaking Into Heaven I decided to throw the Cardiff shirt on stage.

"I was surprised a few minutes later when he put it on; I was pretty much dumb-struck to be honest. I remember Mani [bassist] smiling quite a bit. I actually think, like [Brown] said at the time, he put it on because he liked the colour of it. He might not have even realised it was a Cardiff City shirt."

Local journalist and promoter Kai Jones recalls, "Mani was trying to catch his attention not to put it on. As soon as he did, dozens of people in the crowd started chanting 'City! City!'"

But Fisk says there wasn't too much response to Brown putting the shirt on. "The reaction in the crowd was as you'd expect: a fair bir of cheering, quite a few shouts of 'Bluebirds!' and so on." There was no indication of what would happen later, after the gig.

Local photographer David Hardacre was on hand, and it's his photo you see above. He was in the thick of the action: "I was there with [local journalist] Andy Barding. I was right in the thick of a scrap after the gig and threw a few handy ones (in self defence and hurt my hand). Before I was out of bed the following morning I'd sold £1,200 worth of Ian Brown pics to magazines such as Loaded, 442, NME, Melody Maker, Q, Uncut and all the others you can think of. The Sun and Mirror also phoned. The photo continues to sell today. I spoke to Ian Brown at length about it at TJ's a couple of years after, but mostly he spoke (between drags on a special cigarette) in depth about his new Adidas tracksuit."

Kai Jones adds, "I watched the ensuing rumble outside the Centre from the safety of the bar with some friends, including Dub War while Ian Brown wandered around, with one of those bobble hats with ear flaps, looking oblivious to the chaos he just caused. The 'Roses were incredible though that night - even without Reni on drums.

Andy Barding disagrees as to the quality of the gig, but illuminates the subsequent crowd trouble. "The Newport show would have been a sort of homecoming, as the 'Roses had been in and out of Newport for some months before that. We'd all seen quite a lot of Ian Brown in TJ's up to that point. But it was pretty dire. The first few songs aside, they stank. Prog-indie. I even remember nodding off in a seat at the side of the Newport Centre at one point. And they'd continue to stink until their merciful demise a year or so later.

"Anyway. Ian was lobbed a Cardiff City shirt. Like a fool, he put it on. People with small brains kicked off and the glass door at the entrance of the Newport Centre was shattered in a ruck and the cops called. In a couple of hours, Newport's recovering reputation for violence was once more back at ground zero. Nice one, Ian Brown."

Recollections of the fight / riot / ruckus fade into the background but the gig - as ever - gained something of a legendary status. Almost as if the music doesn't matter, it's the scrap afterwards that became the focal point of the gig. It even turns up in the book Soul Crew by David Jones and Tony Rivers, about Cardiff City's hardcore fanbase, and last year Uncut magazine revisited the story. Fifteen years down the line, it may not have been the most edifying episode in Newport's colourful musical history, but it's one that still gets people talking.

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