(review n most pix by neil crud)
Let’s face it, you can call them Dirty Manc Nob Eds, Tuneless Twats, Big Headed Fucks, Cashiers etc.. But one thing you cannot deny is the impact that one album had on the face of British music. Not too disimilar to that other band 13 years earlier that the Punk Britannia brigade are harping on about now… Never Mind The Bollocks of course changed the face of music worldwide, and the palms of the Pistols itched and itched until they bowed to the lure of the filthy lucre and cashed in on what was rightfully theirs.
The Stone Roses have done a similar thing and these four bagheads have in the space of a month become multi-millionaires, the tune of something like £12 million has kerchinged from the Heaton Park gigs alone! Add the (rip off) merchandise and the ultimate DVD and it’s not a bad job if you can get it. I’m not here to slag off people making money – it’s supply and demand… We demanded, they supplied…
There’s not many bands left (with enough surviving members) to reform now… I guess The Smiths would be the next ‘big’ one, if not the last big one; but Morrissey and Marr have left it a little late to be filling up municipal parks three times over. The Smiths crowd would be seven or eight years older than this weekend’s audience (and I guess that much better behaved ha ha!).
I wasn’t going to go… Don’t meet your heroes they say, and the Stone Roses were my secret heroes, I never did any of that baggy bollocks, couldn’t stomach the fake comradeship of people on E’s, who would hug you like a brother and steal your wallet. But I did love the music, particularly the Stone Roses first album – they were a cut above those who followed, those who tried and ultimately failed in the grand design of things. Fitting a bathroom for your sister for free does have its rewards as she presented me with two tickets for Heaton Park on Sunday – oh, and asked if I would drive!
Having turned down the Sex Pistols in ’96, but being marvelled by Bauhaus in ’98 was this the one worth waiting for…?
Having co-written the Festival Survival Handbook with Andy Fatman, it was the logistics section that came in handy today – do a reconnaissance of your mission, pinpoint the exits, the feeder roads and parking. Google Ads told you Secure Parking was only £22, I’ll tell you that you can be cuter than that. We found a pub, parking was a fiver, it was on the A56, 10 minute walk from the main gates, properly priced beer and a BBQ in the garden – job done, and the first part of the afternoon catered for.
Louder Than War website published a piece about so many Festivals being cancelled this year and it’s plain and simple to see why – ask Jesse J, she’ll tell you it’s all about the money honey. We, the paying public don’t have enough. Festivals are my annual holidays – £500 takes two of us away for a long weekend to see a shed load of bands (most pretty decent, we get to abuse our bodies and act like children) – other people grease their torsos and get bored shitless on a beach and top up on their inevitable skin cancer with their screaming families for a week or more. See, how I said £500..? That’s Rebellion coming up in a month, that’s 2 tickets £130 each, B&B £160 for 4 nights, booking fee, administration fee and generally fucking you up the arse fee. Two festivals it’s a grand, three then it starts getting silly.
Back in the day it was Glastonbury, Reading or Donnington – simple really. Now we have the freedom to choose where we are going to be ripped off, and believe me we are well and truly RIPPED OFF, which is why festivals are being cancelled – you charge me £4 for HALF a pint of warm Fosters, £2 for a small bottle of water, £2.50 for 50p’s worth of frozen chips, £22 for a t-shirt, £15 to park my car and £10 to pitch my tent then I am going to exercise my freedom of choice and NOT buy into it. And people are making that choice and not buying into the great rock ‘n’ roll swindle. Yes yes, seeing the Stone Roses perform again is absolutely fan-fucking-tastic, but 225,000 people won’t be going out next weekend on account of no money, or the weekend after, ok, until the month after that. The majority are not gig goers anyway and events like these are events, special events, but those who do love their live music will be staying indoors until next pay day. There is a tipping point and I get the feeling it’s already tipped, I see The Farm, Space, all these 90s bands reforming, then gigs are suddenly ‘rescheduled’ because ticket sales are poor – and at £20 a pop you can see why… To prize a married mother of three from her Facebook page takes a lot of doing and charging her twenty notes so she can relive a couple of hits like Groovy Train or Female of The Species takes some doing as those two bands are finding out.
I love the English summer rain, for hayfever sufferers like me, this summer (and the last 3) have been brilliant… Hardly a sniffle in sight and three days of mud trudgery on Heaton Park ensured there was not a single blade of grass capable of procreation. My sisters Jane and Emma, Steve F and Manic Tiger left the confines of pub BBQ and got to the park early doors, thus ensuring we were 5 of the inital 25,000 to gain Pit Passes down the front – mud free, relatively crush free, a good vantage point – pity it wasn’t nob ed free…
Despite the threat of rain all day it never happened, and perversely I longed for a torrential downpour as we all sang ‘I am the resurrection and I am the light’ – that would have capped the event off spectacularly, but alas God was never a Roses fan, or if he is, he didn’t catch my selfish vibe at that moment. My Slaughter & The Dogs t-shirt paid homage to the opening drum beat of I Am The Resurrection, neatly lifted from the old Manc punk band’s version of You’re Ready Now (a song well worth checking out). We knew this was the end, a brilliant song to end a brilliant set – the band all hugged each other “We’re rich!”
Long before that uplifting, tearjerking, heart stopping finale, Wythenshaw bagheads Dirty North (pic below) had their chance to be overawed by performing before a crowd they will never play to again.
The come down is playing The Ruby Lounge or The Night & Day after doing this! The majority will forget their set, even if it registered at all, Dirty North will of course never forget it, but to those who took notice they will remember a choppy ska style with (yes, baggy) over-drugged under-nourished hip-hop overtones. Some was lost on such a big stage – the sound didn’t help (lack of volume), Take Me Away came across best like Fun Lovin Criminals with Mike Skinner (ace).
We had a great vantage point, but with Steve F missing in (lager) action, I had three belles to (control) look after and it was evident that although the days of punk rock yore should put us at the forefront of any elbow cum mosh pit action, it would be wise to retreat to safer climes. The crowd was character driven and it was as if the entire cast of the Jeremy Kyle Show past, present and future were here in all their toothless, neck tattooed glory, revelling in the fact that ‘arr kids’ are on stage, oblivious to Ian Brown’s incredibly flat voice, usually drowned out by 75,000 backing singers. We’re not alone, we’re not made of stone.
I had seen Justice Tonight (pic above & below) at a highly charged Olympia in Liverpool last year, that was a memorable gig in many ways, not only for seeing Mick Jones for the first time since standing in The Clash dressing room as a 13 year old in Deeside Leisure Centre (I was 13, not Mick!), but also for the reason behind the whole Justice thing. To bring public awareness and justice for the 96 people who perished at Hillsborough, and like Pete Wylie said today to a crowd heavily leant in the direction of Manchester, ‘It’s not about football, it’s about the fucking government.’ And we all agreed with the song The Day That Margeret Thatcher Dies. The sound again was all over the shop as the techs tried to get to grips with more guitars than Cash Converters (and failing miserably). I’m guessing The Clash would’ve reformed and cashed in too had Joe Strummer not put his guitar down and fucked off this planet for good, and I stood there (in awe of Mick Jones), but wondered how many people The Clash would actually pull if they played today (they’d send a limousine anyway), not many around me knew Clampdown as those on stage belted it out. Yes of course they knew Rock The Casbah and Should I Stay Or Should I Go and I was too blissed out to notice anyone else as I sang my heart out to Train In Vain and skanked my legs off to Bankrobber. It was like a boys karaoke night out as John Powers (Cast), John Robb (Goldblade) and Pete? (Reverend & The Makers) all came on for cameos (without the red jock straps unfortunately!!). Wah! and The Farm are also represented on stage with Groovy Train and the finale of All Together Now was fitting for a festival finale, let alone this set.
My favourite bit was the Fools Gold jam out. You tend to forget, or I had at least, that the Stone Roses weren’t just songsmiths like Oasis, they were actually a seriously groove riding band capable of jamming out those excellent songs. Yes, the Gallagher brothers tried to stand on the shoulders of giants and failed in ten minute long song misery jam outs when they should’ve left the sacred ground that John Squire, Mani and Reni have claimed as their own. Even the hidden out of tune, blackboard scratching track on Second Coming has an air of authority about it…
I had seen The Wailers a couple of years ago, the vibe was good; it was dark, the drink was in full flow. Here, the sun was shining, the drink flowed but the vibe just wasn’t there. If you’re coming over from Kingston, Jamaica then bring your own soundman; The Wailers did and enjoyed the best sound of the day so far… Only problem was they wailed on and on and on… This was more Sunday morning, lying on the grass with a stinking hangover, and despite going through the repertoire of hits bequeathed to them by the late great Robert Nesta Marley, peoples’ attention waned.
There was a mid-set lull during this triumphant return to home turf, as if they were teasing us (no Elephant Stone), but it gave me chance to reflect on the stunning rhythm section of Mani and Reni (He Bangs The Drums) – they held the whole thing together, the glue, the bond, the pastry for the pie – this allowed Squire to drop notes, hit bum ones and Brown to sing like, well… Brown, and get away with it (apart from on Don’t Stop).
You can look at it two ways… If you’re a purist, the fact is that it seems like these four guys got back together a few months ago, rehearsed a couple of times and have made a million people happy and a few million quid in the process. You might be aggrieved that the sound at times was empty, and for your £60 you’d expect lots of strings, a backing guitarist for that fuller sound, but in these days of vocoders, backing tracks, padding and general bullshit it was refreshing to see a band just pick up their guitars without polishing them and playing pure psychedelic bluesy rock ‘n’ roll.
Talking of backing tracks and all that bullshit Plan B was on next… I inwardly and outwardly groaned when I saw he was on the bill (was it to attract da kidz?) – he came on with a full band (and backing tracks), played Praying and a couple of covers, then made way for a human beatbox called Faith SFX, which was bollocks before coming back after a costume change… Now will someone please correct me, but was Plan B wearing a fucking Skrewdriver t-shirt? The set did pick up, the guitars got louder, but like a session guitarist in any band, they lack soul; this did not detract from the raucous ending where Plan B, or Ben Drew if you like, attacked his guitarists, physically pulling them to the ground – that was as soulful as they got!
For a band that reinvented the summer of love, the best way to describe the atmosphere was ‘sparky’ – there were so many people on edge, ready to fight with anyone who bumped into them, some would rightfully get a punch in the back of head for walking through you as if you weren’t there, so much for Love Spreads eh… But like I said, we moved from our excellent viewpoint as it was starting to get a bit lairy, only to realise we had walked into Moss Side – full on chavdom – who the fuck wears a full turquoise tracksuit? The attire matched the typecast as this chav, his bird and mate had a spat with another nob ed and his friends and it all broke out, blood, teeth, hair, cussing, right before us… pre-gig entertainment, they were still at it when the opening riff of I Wanna Be Adored got those not fighting a-whooping and a-hollering in excitement. The lesser known (b-side) Mersey Paradise followed and then my sisters were in a sugar spin, it was all there laid out in big saucerfuls of psychedelic wonderment for us to lap up, and like the cat that got the cream, we all did… I’m stuffed now… Goodnight…