The Stone Roses At Marlay Park – Review
A beautiful Saturday evening in Dublin’s Marlay Park saw seminal Manchester band The Stone Roses return for their second headline show on these shores since their surprise reunion in 2011. With the initial hysteria over the band’s comeback having now cooled, it was down to the 4-piece to prove they’re here to stay this time around. After a long period of inactivity following their comeback shows, rumours emerged that old wounds hadn’t fully healed within the band and that they may have called it a day once more. Then, just two months ago, the band dropped the terrific comeback track ‘All For One’ much to the delight of their ever loyal fanbase. Despite having got the now-obligatory ‘mixed reaction on Twitter’, it put to rest any lingering rumours about the band’s future. This was followed up with the release of the sprawling 7-minute ‘Beautiful Thing’ which harked back to the groove-led material of their heyday. For fans, in addition to the delight of hearing brand new music after 20 years, it also served as confirmation that this reunion was the real deal, not some lucre-driven nostalgic cash-in. Frontman Ian Brown had promised new music during the band’s comeback press conference, and here it was albeit 4 years later, though the Roses were never ones to work to someone else’s schedule, as seen by the 5-year gap between their first two records – a lifetime in that era.
Beginning with long-time set opener ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, it’s a challenge to hear the band over the vast crowd who roar back every word, while both Mani’s bassline and John Squire’s guitar licks are also given the singalong treatment. The band waste no time, tearing straight into ‘Elephant Stone’ and ‘Sally Cinnamon’ flanked on the big screens by their iconic Jackson Pollock inspired artwork. While Ian Brown’s live vocals have always been used as a stick with which to beat the Stone Roses, tonight he is in fine form and, barring a couple of songs, is on top of the pitching issues which have troubled him in the past. Reni’s subtle but highly-effective harmonies serve as a perfect foil to the swaggering frontman. After the initial excitement of the band’s arrival has worn off, the energy noticeably wanes and it becomes apparent once the crowd’s singing recedes, that the sound mix is rather low for such a sprawling venue. This results in ‘(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister’, ‘Bye Bye Badman’ and ‘Shoot You Down’ making up a disappointing early-set lull.
Just as the show threatens to peter out, the band lay down one of their major calling cards, the iconic jangling riff of ‘Waterfall’ reignites audience interest and the show prepares for lift off. Not only does the atmosphere improve but the earlier sound issues are now resolved, giving far more volume and clarity to the mix – John Squire’s virtuosic guitar work now comes to the fore and the 4-piece settle into their stride. The pulsating ‘Begging You’, rarely performed live but recently reintroduced to the setlist, is a triumph. While markedly different to its booming techno-infused studio recording, the band’s willingness to tackle the song in their organic ‘3-piece and vocals’ set-up pays dividends and from here on the performance is a masterclass in psychedelic jam-rock with Squire pulling all the strings in a show-stealing performance. Sticksman Reni’s vocals help ‘All for One’ sound every bit as powerful in its live incarnation while the wild-western slide guitar riff of ‘Love Spreads’ shifts the focus back to Squire who barely puts a foot wrong all night. ‘Made Of Stone’ proves every bit the live singalong classic you hoped it would be while a sprawling 10-minute rendition of ‘Fool’s Gold’ sees the band jamming at length over that famous bass groove. It’s during the more psychedelic jam-based moments that you realise how unique the Stone Roses really are. With each member so proficient in their chosen role, they make for a truly mesmerising musical combination so in-tune with one another it’s a fascinating experience to see them firing on all cylinders. Closing, as always, with the episodic wig-out of I Am The Resurrection, it seems the show has flown by in mere minutes (although the 1.5 hour running time is indeed rather sparse for a band operating at this level in such a setting).
Like many stadium-sized rock shows, tonight was a true spectacle. Yet unlike many of these events, the dazzling lights and video screens were left in the shade by the spellbinding musicianship on display, something their fellow stadium headliners could learn a thing or two from. After early set fears that the event could fizzle out and a rather brief set , The Stone Roses fully justified all the hype that surrounded their comeback. Bring on the new album.