As the reunited Mancs prepare for two huge London gigs, Tom Huddleston hails their resurrection while Oliver Keens shoots ’em down.
‘I know it, you know it, but you can’t write it down, can you?’ These words – spoken by one of the countless rabid Roses fans interviewed in Shane Meadows’s new documentary ‘Made of Stone’ – don’t just sum up the instinctive nature of fan worship, they also pose a challenge to my learned colleague.
These people still love The Stone Roses, still queue for their gigs, wear their t-shirts, sing along to their lyrics. The band are a huge part of their lives. Sure, they might not be cutting-edge culture vultures like some of us – they may not even buy records any more – but hey, they definitely care.
And why shouldn’t they? This is a band whose debut album still sounds completely pristine and flawless, as if it just emerged blinking from some magical hinterland halfway between a Manchester council estate and a psychedelic utopia. A band whose B-sides are better than most contemporary acts’ singles. A band whose gloriously unaffected last-gang-in-town bolshiness inspired a tidal wave of homegrown creativity, from Oasis to Meadows himself.
Sure, there have been bumps in the road, and the continued absence of that promised new material does set a time limit on how long this reunion can remain worthwhile. But for now let’s not intellectualise, let’s not ask why or for how long or how much they’re being paid, let’s just revel in the fact that one of this country’s most beloved, most blissful bands are back on the scene.
On posters currently advertising Shane Meadows’ film ‘Made of Stone’ sits a quote: ‘Grown men will cry.’ They will when they hear Ian Brown’s shambolic vocals – once angelic, now reminiscent of a gruff dog coughing into a broken Auto-Tune.
‘Ah, but,’ I hear you say, ‘Roses gigs are all about the singalong.’ Shame that it costs £55 for the privilege, not counting the babysitter – though a Stone Roses crèche would be apt given how often the band throw their toys out of the pram. One show last year saw drummer Reni walk out before the encore, leaving Ian Brown to call his beloved colleague a ‘cunt’ to hundreds of booing fans.
So they’re erratic and the singer can’t sing. Fine, but what ultimately makes me not care is that they haven’t written a single song since reuniting a year ago. You’d have thought the band, considered by some on a par with The Beatles, would have eked something out since reforming a year ago.
It’s also hard to care about a band that doesn’t care about London? The Stone Roses have visited 35 countries before choosing to see us, including South Korea, Norway and that bastion of indie culture, Dubai. This weekend’s London gigs are hardly ‘the one’.
They also played at America’s Coachella festival, where famously most of the crowd simply asked: ‘Who?’. Hard to imagine a band that inspired greats like The Bluetones could be a mystery to America’s kids.
Before they reunited, John Squire created an artwork called ‘Statement’ that simply read: ‘I have no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses’. I wish he’d stuck to his guns. These shows are just an attempt to turn nostalgia into cash – like a crap alchemist turning base metals into fool’s gold.