Taper : Ian Macdonald (ianmacd)
Rig: 2 x matched DPA 4060 mics -> DPA MMA6000 amplifier (100 Hz low-cut filter) -> Edirol R-09HR recorder (44.1 kHz/24 bit WAV)
Length : 86.07
02. I Wanna Be Adored
03. Sally Cinnamon
04. Mersey Paradise
05. (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
06. Where Angels Play
07. Shoot You Down
08. Fools Gold
10. Ten Storey Love Song
12. Don't Stop
13. This Is The One
14. She Bangs The Drums
16. Made Of Stone
17. Love Spreads
19. [encore break]
It's been a long, long wait for the return of the Roses and many of us thought we'd never see this day, but here we are.
Preceded by a warm-up in Warrington at the end of May, the tour kicked off a few days ago with a couple of gigs in Barcelona. Counting carefully, that makes tonight's gig the fourth since the reunion of the Stone Roses following a sixteen year hiatus; and seventeen years since since the original line-up last played together.
Astonishingly, tonight's gig isn't sold out. I had made sure that I was sitting at my PC at 10:00 the day tickets went on sale, certain the event would sell out within hours. After all, more than 200,000 tickets had been sold within an hour for the Heaton Park gigs in the UK, so the 5,500 tickets for a much more intimate gig in Amsterdam surely wouldn't hang around for long. To my great surprise, they did, and not just until the next day, but until now, a couple of months later.
Stupidly, I forgot that I'd bought not just one ticket, but two, so I haven't invited anyone to go to the gig with me. Consequently, I now have to hang around outside the venue and try to shift the extra one. It's a long, drawn out ordeal and looking like a lost cause when an English punter finally rescues me from an unnecessarily expensive evening out. At €55 a pop, it's unnecessarily expensive enough already. Hmm, yeah, perhaps it's not such a surprise after all that it hasn't sold out.
Inside the Heineken Music Hall, the merchandise stand is doing brisk business. I set up my gear in the taper's dressing-room (read: toilets) and make my way into the hall to secure my spot for the evening.
There are more English than Dutch here tonight, I reckon. Most of the accents I hear are from the north of England. The Roses were never terribly big here, but I'm surprised by the number of English who've made the trip. Ugly buggers, too, a lot of them. I could be at a football match.
The Roses come on at 21:15. Mani looks thrilled to be here. It's no secret that he was the most enthusiastic about reforming the band and it shows. He looks like a little boy on his birthday.
Ian Brown's in a good mood, too, as he bounds onto the stage. John Squire is notably more straight-faced about the occasion, but you can't read anything into that; that's just how he is. Reni is businesslike as he takes up position behind the drums.
Ian greets us and then the band ease gracefully into 'I Wanna Be Adored'. Any concerns I might have harboured about the reformation -- when the Roses are bad, they can be very, very bad -- soon subside. The band are gelling as a unit and the sound is excellent tonight, the Squire's guitar crunching through the solid rhythms laid down by Mani and Reni.
The old songs are dusted off and, one by one, presented for our delectation: 'Sally Cinnamon', 'Mersey Paradise', 'Sugar Spun Sister', 'Where Angels Play' and 'Shoot You Down' follow the opener.
Ian hasn't got any better at singing in tune over the years, but with the Roses, the ability to sing has uncannily always felt like more of a welcome nice-to-have than an absolute precondition.
It's time to roll out 'Fools Gold', which snakes and grooves its way through the Heineken Music Hall for twelve minutes. Squire's wah-wah licks are the jewels in the crown of Mani's classic bass line, the latter locked in symbiotic heaven with Mani's disco drums, demonstrating why those two are one of the best rhythm sections in the business.
The whole thing is deliciously irresistible and the perfect vehicle for showcasing Squire's considerable guitar prowess. As Mani and Reni hammer out the beat with metronomic accuracy, Squire jams like a man possessed. The old magic is most definitely still there.
The song is huge tonight, both in length and stature, and an undeniable highlight -- if not THE highlight -- of the performance.
Three songs from the much-maligned second album find their way into tonight's set: 'Tightrope', 'Ten Storey Love Song' and 'Love Spreads', the last of which Brown embellishes with a short rap that only he can get away with. 'Love Spreads' closes the set after eighty minutes.
The audience reaction is all that you would expect it to be after a sixteen year performance drought. There simply has to be an encore. Both crowd and band have earned it.
Ian emerges after a while to inform us that "the drummer's gone home". Yeah, funny.
"I'm not kidding you," he says. "Sorry about that." Yeah, right; very funny'; now play the encore.
Only, he really isn't joking. "The drummer's a cunt," we're casually informed and, with that, Ian leaves the stage.
No-one can quite believe it, so the amassed bodies fail to disperse. If we only wait long enough, shout for long enough, then they'll simply have to play an encore. That's how it's supposed to work. Those are the unwritten rules, bu tonight, the Stone Roses break them.
Beer douses me from behind a couple of times; ironic that it should come only now, after the final note has rung out. No doubt it was hurled stagewards by frustrated punters.
I suddenly recall the price of entry to this evening's entertainment. Have I already mentioned the princely sum of €55, plus another €5 in fees?
I find myself trying to shake an unwelcome and irrational sense of entitlement to an encore. The band don't owe me one, but they haven't yet played 'I Am The Resurrection', so yeah, they kind of do.
The lights come up and the roadies start to break down the equipment. A lot of booing ensues and soon everyone is talking about the abrupt ending. Out by the merchandise stand, a girl passing by me mentions to her boyfriend that Reni is sick. Perhaps it's true.
Whatever the case, the emptiness left by the sudden come-down is palpable. I have no right to be annoyed, but I still am. Encores aren't for free. They have to be earned on both sides. The perfunctory, habitual encore is a thing of embarrassment, but tonight, it would have been the natural and fitting way to finish the gig.
The feeling of annoyance is short-lived, replaced by genuine curiosity as to why one wasn't given. Still, at least Ian came out to say something to us. He could have just sat back with a giant spliff, which I'm sure he did, anyway.
And perhaps it's true that Reni really is sick. If so, get well soon, Reni.
I decide to buy a T-shirt anyway -- it's been a memorable occasion -- but the largest size they have left is Small. That's never going to work, so I pass. It's obviously been a good night for merchandise. With that and the ticket price, you could be forgiven for forgetting that there's a global recession.
Taking stock the morning after, I'm more than happy. It was a fantastic gig, a grandiose and stylish reentry, achieving the considerable and anything but certain feat of living up to the larger-than-life legend, one fuelled by sixteen years of post-split embellishment and bullshit. One wonders whether the Stone Roses might even be better now than ever before.
The recording faithfully captures the action, including Ian's frequently tuneless vocals, much more apparent after the fact than when standing in the firing line of the PA.
I was worried about the sing-along factor at this gig, picturing huge numbers of drunken middle-aged English geezers singing loudly and even more tunelessly than the bloke on stage. There was some of that, of course, but nothing right in my ear and therefore, happily, little evidence of it on the recording.
Samples are included, but will be superfluous for fans of the band. You ARE going to want this.
I really cared about getting this one right and am very happy with how it has turned out. The slightest amount of equalisation has been applied to tease the higher frequencies to the fore, but very little else was needed.