Fifteen years ago the band parted company, but for those fifteen years they still managed to inspire new artists, and cling onto their status as the heart of the Manchester music scene. Pretty much every year there would be a rumour of a reformation, yet those rumours were always quickly quashed, leaving no doubt in everyone’s mind that it was probably never going to happen.
But we still hoped…
As the doors from a very tightly packed tram opened onto the platform of Heaton Park station on Saturday 30th June, reality hit. The most influential band of our time was going to be playing today. After all the years of us thinking it would never happen, the day was finally upon us. As swarms of people spilled out onto the streets and began to filter through the gates at Heaton Park, the atmosphere began to build. Despite the typical Manchester downpour earlier on in the day, the sun began to smile down on us as we entered the park and came face to face with the stage that would behold our musical heroes later on that night.
As the sea of welly and waterproof clad revellers guzzled down their lager and cider we got caught in yet another rain downpour, however unlike the muddy marsh of a field we were now stood in, our spirits weren’t dampened. If anything it added to the true magic of the day - this is Manchester and our boys are back.
Over the course of the weekend, many support bands graced the stage including Primal Scream, Plan B and Kid British. On Saturday’s agenda Hollie Cook was first on to warm up the crowd, followed by Professor Green. Despite earlier gripes about a rap artist being support at a Roses gig Pro Green was a welcome attribute to the day. Playing hits including ‘Monster’ and current track ‘Remedy’, Green was also joined onstage by Lily Allen to perform their No.1 single ‘Just Be Good To Green’. The Wailers later infused reggae grooves into proceedings as they played favourites such as ‘I Shot The Sheriff’, 'Get Up, Stand Up’, ‘Jamming’ and ‘Exodus’ – cementing the feel good atmosphere of the day.
Main support came in the form of Beady Eye. Liam Gallagher took to the stage with as much gusto as he had back in 2009 when Oasis sold out Heaton Park. The energy was un measurable and you could clearly see that Liam and the band were giving their all, and as proud to be part of the day as every last person in the crowd. The band also treated attendees by covering two Oasis songs ‘What’s The Story Morning Glory ‘ and ‘Rock n' Roll Star’, which went down an absolute storm. If anything was going to pump up the crowd more before the Roses played their set, this was it. Liam then signed off by saying “You are about to see the best f**king band in the world. You don’t know how lucky you are.” I think we would have to disagree with you there Liam…
An eerie silence drifts over Heaton Park and people gather in closer. The smell of the wet soil suddenly seems more prominent and stage lights shine brightly, almost blindingly, through the dusky Manchester night. As the hairs on backs of necks begin to stand on end, it begins… that sublime bass line that we all know so well… the intro to ‘I Wanna Be Adored’.
Every arm goes up in the air and rapturous cheers drown out the music. It’s finally happening. As John Squire echoes Mani's bass line with his equally sublime guitar, Reni enters with his punchy drum-work followed by the enigmatic opening line “I don’t have to sell my soul, he’s already in me” delivered by Ian Brown.
The set continues with classics such as ‘Sugar Spun Sister’, 'Sally Cinnamon’ and ‘Fools Gold’. The band sounded as tight as ever and Brown impressed with his vocals, for which he had received criticism for in the past. Seeing the band onstage you would not have even thought there had ever been a rift. You could tell they were genuinely elated to be there. 'Waterfall' sparked a mass outbreak of freestyle dance, especially at the instrumental outro. 'Ten Storey Love Song’ and ‘Made Of Stone' were played beautifully, with the crowd flinging one arm around their nearest and dearest and another in the air, many a tender moment was shared. 'She Bangs The Drums' was an ecstatic moment. In fact, there were so many highs and not one low, it's near impossible to pin-point a highlight.
The last song of their set was an easy guess. If one track could sum up the band's journey and the band as a whole, it was always going to be this one. 'I Am The Resurrection' literally goes off and very single person in that park was singing at the top of their lungs. It was absolutely phenomenal to be a part of. The elated crowd were in such high spirits, clinging onto every word, riff and drum beat, not wanting this historic day to ever end. Just as everyone thinks its all over, Bob Marley's classic ‘Redemption Song’ blares out of the sound system, and a spectacular firework display fills the air. The band all embrace each other on stage and gaze up at the beautiful sight in the skies of Manchester – this truly was an unforgettable way to end the gig of a lifetime.
As the crowds spill out onto the streets of Manchester looking a little more worse for wear than they did eight hours previously, the feeling is still electrifying. Chanting one Stone Roses song after the other whilst trying to make their journeys home, every last person knew that they had been a part of something special tonight - a once in a lifetime experience that will stay with them forever.
Fifteen years was worth the wait. We’d do it all again in the blink of an eye.
Words: Jo-Anne Waddington
Photos: Ben Bentley
Find tickets for upcoming festivals in our 2012 festival guide
Originally published: 3rd Jul 2012