June 12, 2012
Heineken Music Hall
Review by James Rowe
The Stone Roses
For the past six years, since I’ve moved from Manchester, England to Amsterdam, it truly has become my home away from home. Last night, I was reminded of what I left behind when my home town’s finest, the mercurial Stone Roses, performed at the Heineken Music Hall. The recently reunited band is warming up on the European continent, before they return to the UK for a series of sold-out shows and headlining festival appearances.
The legendary lineup of singer Ian Brown, guitarist John Squire, bassist Gary "Mani" Mountfield and drummer Alan "Reni" Wren kicked off the evening’s festivities with their classic, "I Wanna Be Adored". Listening to the crowd sing along with Brown, you would have thought the entire British Isles had been airlifted to Amsterdam. Fans from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland made the pilgrimage to catch this special show. They weren’t disappointed. In short, the Stone Roses are back. All the past rumors of 'will it happen or not’ seemed but a faint memory as the band played on.
Rarely have I been to a gig where the set list contained nothing but one classic song after another. And that’s saying something for a band that has only two studio albums to its name. Witnessing "Fools Gold" performed live was worth the entry fee alone. Whatever animosity that had kept Squire and Brown from talking to one another over the years was gone. Also, a guaranteed $12 million pound payday split four ways also soothed any rough edges that still existed.
Before I go any further, the press is going to have a field day with this Amsterdam show because of an incident at the end of the show. Ian Brown called drummer Reni a few choice words for not returning to the stage to ostensibly perform the encore, "I Am the Resurrection." I wouldn’t read too much into it. Again, these four have too much on the line financially to blow it now. This episode will blow over as soon as the band walks on stage to play their next gig.
Tonight, the band performed almost all the songs from their classic 1989 debut. Three songs off the much maligned Second Coming album also made there way onto the set list. They included "Tightrope", "Ten Storey Love Song" and "Love Spreads." Aside from the disappointment of not hearing "I Am the Resurrection," this was a phenomenal show. John Squire was brilliant on the guitar. Mani and Reni hadn’t lost a beat, and showed why they are one of the great rhythm sections of all times. And what can you say about Ian Brown that hasn’t already been said. His "issue" with Reni at show’s end was pure Stone Roses.
There is a reason the Stone Roses are held on a high pedestal by music fans and critics alike. The music has stood the test of time. Almost 23 years after their debut, this band still commands respect from its peers and especially fans. When it was announced the group was definitely reforming to play a series of gigs this summer in England, 150,000 tickets were snapped up in hours. The show here in Amsterdam sold out in minutes. As evidence tonight, age has done nothing to slow this band down. The songs were all performed to perfection. Again, John Squire’s performance throughout the nearly two hour shows was flawless. In an age where many musicians feel they have to run their mouth and build themselves up, it’s nice to see an artist just stand there and let his instrument do all the talking. And believe me, Squire’s guitar spoke volumes. I was mesmerized.
Mani seemed to love every second playing bass, despite the 16-year hiatus. Dressed in a flowery pink shirt, a smile rarely left his face. You could tell he was soaking up every moment. One of the most famous Stone Roses tracks, "Waterfall", went down like a storm. Another well-received song was 'Ten Storey Love Song". This is not your typical love song in any way shape or form. It deals more, perhaps, with what could have been. Lyrics like, 'When your questions go unanswered and the silence is killing you’ was something the strong British contingent in the venue seemed to overwhelmingly identify with.
The band closed their 15-song set with "Love Spreads." After the song, Ian Brown asked the crowd to introduce his fellow band mates one by one by shouting out their names. 'The Roses' departed to rapturous applause. The crowd expected an encore and waited with baited breath. Then, as I mentioned earlier, the weirdest ending to a gig I’ve seen in years occurred. Brown returned to proclaim that the drummer 'Alan 'Reni Wren’ had left the building and gone home. The crowd booed, not wanting to believe what they just heard out of the singer’s mouth. Brown then stoked the crowd’s emotion by shouting out, "C’mon, take all your anger out on me. I can take it!" He left the stage as the road crew began dismantling all the equipment on stage.
I Wanna Be Adored
(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
Where Angels Play
Shoot You Down
Ten Storey Love Song
This Is The One
She Bangs The Drums
Made Of Stone