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 : 104.06
02. I Wanna Be Adored
03. Mersey Paradise
04. (Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
06. Sally Cinnamon
07. Where Angels Play
08. Shoot You Down
09. Bye Bye Badman
10. Ten Storey Love Song
11. Standing Here
12. Fools Gold
13. Something's Burning
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
The Stone Roses - Waterfall - Manchester 29th June 2012 [ianmacd]
I land in Manchester. I'll be here for approximately 68 hours and it will transpire that I'll spend 25 of those standing in Heaton Park, and a further 9 travelling to and from the park. The remaining 50% of the time is theoretically allocated to sleep and mastering recordings.
In the months leading up to this, some of the initial excitement had turned to dread. Strange, you may think, but the prospect of flying to England and spending three long days in a muddy Mancunian field with 74,999 other daft bastards, many of whom will be there just to get hammered, throw beer, sing out of tune and tick the box that says "I was there, man", isn't one I relish.
And then there's the overpriced food and drink, the squalid toilet facilities, the inflated hotel prices and Manchester's weather, which is famous for its rain. What are my chances of getting through the weekend without precipitation? Slim, and that's the optimist in me speaking.
When The Stone Roses announced two reunion shows in Manchester (and then quickly added a third when tickets for the first two sold out within minutes), there were no other gigs scheduled. There was talk of a world tour afterwards, but only time would tell whether that ever came to fruition. Maybe they'd fall out again and break up after the Manchester shows, or maybe they'd never even make it that far. You just didn't know.
Of one thing we could be reasonably sure, however: the Heaton Park gigs weren't just a reunion, they were the band's homecoming. As such, they would provide the first opportunity to see the band live since the announcement that they were getting back together. Right? Wrong.
In the months that followed, more gigs were scheduled to be played before the Heaton Park concerts, including one at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam. These would give the fan the opportunity to see the band in a much more intimate setting. I, for one, jumped at the chance.
I did feel slightly cheated with the Manchester gigs, though. I probably wouldn't have bought tickets for those three shows if I had known at the time that the band would also be playing on my own doorstep. Three gigs on foreign soil bring with them a lot of trials, tribulations and extra expense, which I could have avoided if I'd only known what was coming.
Not only that, but the Manchester gigs would now no longer have quite the same stature as previously envisaged, because they would no longer provide the first opportunity to see the band live since their sixteen year hiatus. As such, they had lost some of their sheen.
Anyway, that's the background.
I get to Heaton Park just after 15:00. The ground seems to be in pretty good condition. Rain is forecast and there was some around lunchtime, but it's now dry with overcast skies.
After purchasing a programme and a T-shirt (well, these aren't just any old gigs, are they?), I head down to the front of the park and pick up a wristband for entrance to the pit. Only 10,000 of these are available each day, in an effort to maintain sanity in the front half of the park and prevent crushing and what have you.
I don my wristband and take up residence a few metres in front of the soundboard.
The line-up today consists of Kid British, The Vaccines, The Wailers, Primal Scream and last, but not least, The Stone Roses. Kid British kicks things off at 16:35.
After his set, I go to get some food and am still wandering around the site when The Vaccines come on. Running through my mind is the deliberation whether or not to dare attempt recording anything with my new Schoeps microphones. With the prospect of the heavens opening at any moment and the likelihood of a lot of airborne beer before very long, I decide that it would be reckless to expose the Schoeps to the risk. Besides which, the constant jostling doesn't suit cardioid microphones.
There's also the issue of being spotted with the new rig, which is not ideal for an environment that dictates discretion. It is, after all, broad daylight and the new microphones have cables that cannot fully be concealed. Compared to the DPA/Edirol combo, they're a flashing beacon to officials prowling the park, of whom there are seemingly hundreds, all in radio contact with one another. No, I don't want to take any risks here.
I find a spot to sit down and set up my microphones, a job I have left until the last minute to reduce the chance of an encounter with the rain, which would require hasty and conspicuous dismantlement.
It will actually turn out to remain dry all evening. The grey clouds, never absent from the sky, spat a handful of raindrops at one point during one of the performances and then never reopened. It was tropically humid, however, which often means that when the rain does come, it will be monsoon-like. As such, I kept looking fearfully skywards, expecting the worst at any moment.
This evening, I record only Primal Scream and The Stone Roses. I should have recorded The Wailers, too, because they were great, but they'll be playing on all three days, so I'll have two more chances to commit them to disk.
The Roses come on at 21:10. Glasses and bottles arc through the air and my decision not to take up position anywhere near the front is confirmed to be the right one.
The downside of being close to the back of the pit, however, is a lot of crowd noise. The opening song, 'I Wanna Be Adored', is virtually drowned out by the drunken, tuneless warbling of the revellers around me. It's par for the course, really, at an event like this, but one still wishes it didn't have to be.
Some songs offer more of a sing-along opportunity than others, so things simmer down for a while before the crowd pipe up again for numbers like Sally Cinnamon', 'Ten Storey Love Song' and 'Waterfall'.
The sound is amazing, with a light show to match. 'Fools Gold' would raise the roof off this place if it had one. It's 13 minutes of sheer, unadulterated joy; sex for the ears. What wouldn't I give to be able to play guitar like John Squire?
Tonight, the Roses wheel out what must be almost every song they have rehearsed for this tour, nineteen of them in all, four more than in Amsterdam. New since Amsterdam are 'Bye Bye Badman', 'Standing Here', 'Something's Burning', 'Elizabeth My Dear' and 'I Am The Resurrection'. 'Tightrope', on the other hand, has been dropped.
'I Am The Resurrection', painfully absent in Amsterdam, closes the set, clocking in tonight at a hefty eleven minutes. There's no encore, but nor is there any suggestion of one. With a 23:00 curfew in place, there isn't really even enough time, but in truth, one can also make the argument that it just wouldn't be appropriate, either. There's simply no way to follow what the band has just presented and it would be folly to risk taking the edge off the magical atmosphere that now envelopes the park.
Before leaving the stage, the four Roses embrace and hug. It doesn't feel forced and the crowd greet the gesture with loud cheering and applause.
"What do you think of that? Not bad for a bunch of old cunts!" is Ian's considered opinion. I must concur with him.
And with that, the exodus begins. 75,000 waifs and strays attempt to make it home. My fertile imagination pictures the horror at the nearest tram stop, so I decide to walk back into town instead. The exercise will do me good, even if, after eight hours spent standing in a field, it feels as if it's doing me bad.
It's about 6½ km back to my hotel. On the long journey by foot, I encounter discarded wellies, people lying face down in the street, men and women urinating behind petrol stations and fast food joints with queues down the street.
It's 01:45 before I finally make it back to my hotel, feeling as if I've just made a pilgrimage.
Samples are included, but don't expect miracles. Given the circumstances, the recording is surprisingly listenable, but it is not up to my usual standard. Listen to the samples and judge for yourself.