Heaton Park; Manchester 1st July 2012

Taper : ianmacd

Rig: Factory-paired DPA 4060 microphones (with windshields) -> DPA MMA6000 amplifier (100 Hz low-cut filter) -> Edirol R-09HR recorder (44.1 kHz/24 bit WAV)

Length : 104.04

01. Intro
02. I Wanna Be Adored
03. Mersey Paradise
04. (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
05. Sally Cinnamon
06. Where Angels Play
07. Shoot You Down
08. Banter
09. Bye Bye Badman
10. Ten Storey Love Song
11. Standing Here
12. Fools Gold
13. Something's Burning
14. Waterfall
15. Don't Stop
16. Love Spreads
17. Made Of Stone
18. This Is The One
19. She Bangs The Drums
20. Elizabeth My Dear
21. I Am The Resurrection

Sample :
The Stone Roses - Ten Storey Love Song - Manchester 1st July 2012 [ianmacd]


Day three brings lots of morning rain, but the weather takes a turn for the better in the afternoon. When I arrive at Heaton Park, the skies are brightening and slowly turning blue. The forecast, too, is good. I'm feeling optimistic.

Anything that once resembled grass has pretty much surrendered at this point and returned to the earth from which it sprang forth. God only knows how long it takes the local council to restore the park to its former glory after an event like this.

The drill is becoming familiar: arrive, go to toilet, obtain wristband for pit, stock up on water, conceal water bottles from pit stewards, enter pit; and finally, take up residence along barrier separating rabble from audio-visual crew who mix the sound, control the lights, and direct the cameras for the big screens.

As I get talking to the people already ensconced at the back of the pit, I spot a lad who is apparently already much the worse for wear. His eyes are barely open, he's bent at the knees and his beer glass is tilted at 45°, its contents repeatedly edging right up to the rim, but never spilling. I look for the wires that must be holding him up, but can't find any. Perhaps he works on a complex system of gyroscopes.

Another guy sees me looking at the wasted geezer and informs me, "He's been like that all day." Wow. The bloke still has five hours to go before The Stone Roses come on stage. I wonder if he'll make it.

Dirty North, The Justice Tonight Band, The Wailers, Plan B and The Stone Roses comprise today's line-up.

I start out recording Dirty North, but it's broad daylight -- sunshine even -- and I soon get rumbled. I've moved several metres away from the barrier to get away from the watchful eye of the stewards, but a few minutes into the set, a tap on the shoulder from someone behind me alerts me to the fact that I'm being called back to the barrier for a word with one of the stewards. Shit.

"Are you recording this?" she inevitably asks. If I deny it, I'll be lost for words when she asks her next question and things will likely turn grim fast, so I come clean about it, but add that I have permission to record. She asks for written evidence, which I say I can't provide (that bit is no lie), because all of the correspondence took place in e-mail.

To my surprise, she's placated and leaves me alone. My card is marked, though. If I'm seen recording anyone else today, a plausible explanation is going to be virtually impossible to devise.

I'm baffled how she even noticed me. From behind, there's nothing out of the ordinary about my appearance. Later on, it will emerge that there are security cameras on stage, and that these are used to zoom in on people in the crowd and look for individuals up to no good or at risk (primarily from themselves, of course). I discover this from one of the other stewards, who tells us that they're keeping an eye on the wasted geezer.

In an effort to avoid further skirmishes with the event staff, I move further forward to record The Justice Tonight Band, but am caught out by their earlier than scheduled arrival on stage and somehow hit 'Play' instead of 'Record'. I can't see the recorder's display in the now bright sunlight, so by the time I happen to notice the problem, it's too late and I've missed several songs.

With the recording fluffed, I take advantage of the time that has been freed up and head out of the pit for a toilet break and some fish and chips. I want to see The Wailers again at 18:30, and if I wait until they've finished to fetch food and relieve myself, getting back to my spot in the pit may prove a challenge.

I'm gutted that I messed up the Justice Tonight Band recording. They were really good, playing a mixture of songs by The Farm, The Clash and Pete Wylie, from whose ranks the various members of this benefit band are drawn.

'Sinful', 'Bankrobber', 'Train In Vain', 'Altogether Now' and 'Groovy Train' are just some of the songs played, and they go down very well with this crowd.

I head back into the pit with my fish and chips and return to the rear barrier. The steward whose radar I am now on clocks me and calls me over for another word.

She wants to know why I'm still recording. "I'm not," I say truthfully, but she's not convinced. So, I show her my fish and chips and explain, "Look, if I were recording this, I'd have just recorded my conversation at the fish and chip van a few minutes ago, and I'd be recording you and me now, so obviously I'm not recording, right?"

I don't know whether she believes me, but she drops the bone and buggers off again... for now. Man, I need to stay out of this woman's way. This is female attention of the highly undesirable variety.

When The Wailers come on, they're also earlier than scheduled and I'm distracted by my conversation with the guy next to me. I'm not up and running in time to catch the start of the first song and, being something of an absolutist, decide therefore not to record an incomplete set. I do still enjoy watching the band, though, which is what this is all about at the end of the day.

Bugger. That's one recording with a steward gabbing all over it and two that I never even got started on. I'm not doing well today and I need to get my act together before The Stone Roses come on.

The wasted geezer is holding up well. He's totally off his face now, eyes completely shut, but he's still holding his beer and refills are appearing from somewhere. As bad as he looks, he apparently knows his own limits and is pacing himself.

I have no interest in Plan B, so I don't record him. To his credit, he's better live than on record, where he's as dull as dishwater, but it's just not my cup of tea. The crowd respond well enough to him, though.

The wasted geezer downs a tray full of chips and gravy. It's a disconcerting and distasteful sight, watching this man eat, but effective at removing any lingering hunger I might have had.

I engage him in conversation, which surprises me by even being possible. His speech is severely slurred, but intelligible. He turns out to be an unemployed plumber from Aberdeen and he's been on the go since 05:00 today. Wow. I'm genuinely impressed that's he's still upright. "I wouldn't have missed this for the world," he informs me, and I instantly empathise.

By this point, people are tapping The Man From Aberdeen on the shoulder and taking his photo when he turns to look at them. Some people are even putting an arm around him and having their picture taken with him. You know you're off your tits when your drunkenness is noteworthy even by festival standards.

The sun sets for the last time on the stage in Heaton Park. Many of the people I've spoken to today are hoping -- expecting even -- something a little bit special tonight, given that it's the last of the homecoming gigs.

Looking at the clock, I see that the time won on the schedule earlier in the day has since been squandered. If the Roses are to add a little something extra tonight, it will have to be in the quality, not the quantity of the performance. That 23:00 curfew is immovable and we're no further removed from it when the band come on stage tonight than we were Friday or Saturday.

Once again, there are no changes to the set-list tonight. It's good enough and long enough that I have no complaints. I would personally throw out 'Something's Burning' in favour of 'Elephant Stone' or 'Driving South', but there are as many opinions on the ideal set as there are punters here tonight, so who cares?

The performance, once again, is stellar; perhaps the best of the three. 'Fools Gold', in particular, blows my mind. Only twelve minutes? I want it never to end. This is aural (sic) orgasm. John Squire is an obscenely talented man. It's just not fair; and he makes it look easy, too.

Ian, on the other hand, sings out of tune more frequently tonight than the last two. 'Elizabeth My Dear', in particular, suffers an excruciating start. Thank God it's so short. John's subtle guitar arpeggios give Ian's tuneless drawl no place to hide.

It says a lot about this band that a sixteen year absence and the singer's inability to sing in tune didn't impede their entrance into the annals of music history as the band with the fastest selling gig tickets of all time. Let's not forget that 225,000 tickets for these shows sold out within an hour.

The gig seems a lot louder than Saturday night, but perhaps I'm imagining that. As far as the crowd are concerned, I'm happy to report that the opposite is, in fact, true. The audience are a little less rowdy tonight, focussed more on what's happening on stage and less on themselves. Or perhaps that's just true of the people in my immediate vicinity, but I do notice that there is less flying beer in the pit tonight, too.

The Man From Aberdeen makes it all the way through. Impressive. Presumably, he'll make it back to Aberdeen, too.

Ian asked the audience Friday night, "What do we do now? Where do we go from here?" Pertinent questions, but we're no closer to an answer tonight.

It was brave enough to reunite and attempt to rekindle the latent alchemy that lurks within, but it would be an order of magnitude more ambitious to produce a third album. Many wrote off these concerts in advance, but the naysayers are looking foolish now. If the Roses can pull off a comeback on this scale, perhaps they can also produce the ultimate difficult third album.

Many expect them to do just this one tour and then retire again, but there are enough verbal references from Ian over the course of this long weekend to "being back", that one senses that at least one of the band wants more than than just one final fling.

Are they here just to make a point and enjoy a humongous payday for their retirement fund, or is there more to come? Or are they just playing it by ear, day by day, unaware themselves at this stage of how they'll feel and what they'll want to do when the tour finally winds to a close? Only time will tell.

As fireworks light the night sky one last time and Bob Marley ushers my fellow punters out of the pit with his song of redemption, I make my way to the exit, a process as painfully slow as the night before. How did I manage to get out of here so quickly on Friday?

As we funnel down through the gate, the air is filled with the stench of rancid human excrement. It smells like a toilet here, because it IS a toilet.

My final pilgrimage to Manchester's city centre begins. The walk will take about ninety minutes, but I am kept company by countless vivid memories and thoughts about my time in a muddy field in the northwest of England. They distract me from my robotic passage through the streets of Salford and on into the heart of Manchester.

It starts to rain, but it doesn't matter.

I arrive back at the hotel. By the time I've arranged a wake-up call and taxi, paid my bill and packed for a speedy getaway in the morning, I'm facing the prospect of just 2½ hours of luxurious sleep before I have to rise once more for the return trip to Amsterdam. Again, it doesn't matter. The experience is in the bag.

I survived 24 hours in the mud and 20 kilometres of joyless walking on tired, aching feet; I braved the rain, the portaloos and that most challenging of festival hazards, my fellow man.

Most importantly, I came home with memories of three fantastic gigs and the recordings to prove it. No equipment was damaged or confiscated in the process, I didn't get stabbed, and I got soaked to the skin on only one day out of three.

In short, the exercise was a rip-roaring success by any yardstick that I might apply.

The Sunday recording is, thanks in no small part to the better behaved crowd, the best of the three. As mentioned above, Ian is more out of tune on this one, but the performance of the band as a unit more than compensates for it.

Whereas the Friday and Saturday recordings are, perhaps, primarily of interest to those who were there and who wish to have a memento by which to remember the experience, the Sunday recording is one I would recommend for general listening. It captures the performance very well and is one that I can imagine returning to time and time again, whether or not you were there on the night.

So, once again, don't expect miracles. The recording isn't amongst my best, but it is genuinely very good. If you are looking for just one recording of the Heaton Park gigs, this is the one to get.

As always, samples are included, so you can judge the quality for yourself.

I leave you with one final thought. At this moment in time, there is no doubt in my mind: I have just borne witness to the best fucking band in the world. No contest.

What now?