As far as relevant bands go there aren’t many, in my opinion, who are just as relevant today as they were 30 years ago!

There’s always a massive buzz and sense of excitement, not just around Manchester but the entire country,  when rumours start flying  about a potential Stone Roses announcements. 

Firstly, I just want to say I met some amazing people Wednesday, Friday and Saturday! Great to have met you all and as always… One Love! Are you in our Hall of Fame?

In October 2015, fans of the band were met with mysterious lemon posters around the Manchester area causing suspicion and sparking rumours of movement from the Roses camp, however it was fairly obvious what was to come… the question was – where and when?

Then the news dropped – 2 nights + a couple of extras for good luck at Manchester’s Etihad stadium.  Whilst it wasn’t until recently that the support was announced its fair to say that the supporting lineup was always going to split the crowd… and this is what it looked like:

Wednesday 15th – Blossoms & Chronixx,
Friday 17th – The Coral & Buzzcocks
Saturday 18th – Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott & Audioweb
Sunday 19th – The Courteeners & Bugzy Malone

…and the main support being Public Enemy over all four dates.

A bit of a wild card some would argue with Public Enemy being the main support. Whilst Hip-hop isn’t my first choice in music styles you cant deny the Long Island bunch have had their fair share of success over the past 30 years, not just with their politically charged lyrics but also their active interest with the frustrations and concerns of the African American community. With the bands first four albums going Gold or Platinum in the late 80’s/early 90’s its pretty straight forward to see why Public Enemy are possibly one of the most critically acclaimed hip-hop bands in history. The front-rowers were certainly giving it some good arm waving action whilst enjoying the hip-hop beats.

As far as other support goes over the four dates, it would be practically impossible to please everyone in a 60,000 crowd and I’m pretty sure there would have been some ticket swapping going on leading up to the live shows.

In all fairness – If you’re buying Roses tickets, you’re buying tickets to see the Roses so it was a little disappointing to see and hear people complaining about the support bands!

Blossoms

Blossoms warmed up the ‘Mad-fer-it” crowd on the first night and its fair to say they were on top form and sounding as fresh as always. This will be the 4th time FOTF has seen the band – you can view images and read the reviews here. With their debut album set to hit later this year; they are having a storming year and the Stockport band are only going to get bigger and bigger… Can’t wait for that album!

The Coral

Fridays line up saw The Coral take the stage whilst currently in the middle of their own ‘Distance Inbetween’ tour. It’s the 2nd time I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the band and just as my debut gig the Liverpool lads were very tight, still got a great live sound and their new material is definitely going in a positive direction. Will they excite you with their on stage presence or antics? probably not, but who cares when they are producing the goods. A cool band, cool tunes and standing the test of time since their self titled, debut album in 2002… nearly 15 years old – fair play lads!

Buzzcocks

In all honesty, like a lot of people in the Friday night crowd, the Bolton formed Punk band, Buzzcocks were slightly before my time. That said, so was Mr Kipling but it doesn’t stop me eating pie’s. It was a shame that the Etihad was only just starting to fill up when the band were on stage – A lot of people missed out on a cracking performance. If you did miss it, the band have over 40 shows coming up throughout the year across  UK, Europe and the States so make sure you catch them. For more details check them out here.

With the band having more past members than the labour party, they’ve had their fair share of turbulence over the years however with the addition of Chris Remington on Bass in 2008 and Danny Farrant on Drums in 2006 the band are sounding very complete whilst smashing out all the classics.

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott

Another top performance from the double act who are still sounding effortlessly great and untouched by time. Jacqui looking fantastic not missing a note and The Housemartins / The Beautiful South front man leading the way on classics such as Happy Hour, Caravan of Love, Good As Gold (Stupid As Mud), Old Red Eyes + many others. The duo rocked the crowd to all their sing along hits and certainly distributed some feel good vibes – Top marks!

The Courteeners

Possibly one of the only other active Manchester bands that can sell out Manchester shows just as quick as the Roses. Playing to a 25,000 sellout home coming show a year ago to the month the band have gone from strength to strength since their 2007 debut album St Jude. Sunday saw the band playing the usual anthemic belters such as Are You in Love With a Notion, Small Bones, Not Nineteen Forever whilst predictably finishing with What Took You So Long?

Courteeners fans are just as hardcore and consistent as Roses fans so the 9 track set list wouldn’t have been a disappointment to anyone however that said, was anyone else expecting something new….?? This August will see the 2nd birthday of the bands previous album Concrete Love so I’m sure I can be confident in speaking for many other Courteeners fans and say… “come on lads, don’t keep us waiting”. With the addition Joe Cross (bass) it’ll be interesting to hear how the the band have developed their already signature sound should a new album drop….

The Stone Roses

On to the reason why over 200,000 people packed out the Etihad over 4 nights.

Think about that for a moment…. are there any other British bands that could do this at present? (let us know your thoughts) This was a conversation which took place with other photographers on Friday just before we were escorted to the pit. Of course there are past bands such Queen, Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, The Rolling Stones however the general consensus was… “probably not” other than people from the pop world such as Adel and Ed Sheeran. John Robb was in on the conversation who added “The Beatles largest UK crowd was only 5,000” which certainly puts things in to perspective.

© Jason Palmer | For Flick Of The Finger

© Jason Palmer | For Flick Of The Finger

Its been 4 years to the month since the fans witnessed what could have been a risky reunion at Heaton Park and since the announcement of the latest set of Etihad shows, the hysteria that surrounds the Roses has been as big as ever and this could have something to do with it…

“Imagine hearing; I Wanna Be Adored, Elephant Stone, Sally Cinnamon, Mersey Paradise, Sugar Spun Sister, Bye Bye Badman and Where Angels Play one after the other! “

… Well thats what the band opened up with! (I know right!!!) and consistently did so over the 4 nights. From the first rumbles of Mani’s bass on Adored the scene was set for the night.

Every hair standing on end by the time Squires lead came in; the Etihad erupts and could only be described as a sea of bouncing heads front to back with hands in the air, people on shoulders and red, yellow & blue flares lighting up the stadium.

On the 2nd night, after a short discussion between Mani and Ian it was requested that fans should stop lighting the flares as it was causing breathing problems on stage. Shortly after his request a blue flair came flying over the pit barrier nearly taking out a couple of photographers… This didn’t interrupt play or injure anyone and whilst most people of all ages were on the same wave length; this act was an accurate representation of the some of the juveniles that attended, but what you going to do…? 200,000 people – theres alway gonna be one dick head!

© Jason Palmer | For Flick Of The Finger

© Jason Palmer | For Flick Of The Finger

The band are as tight as ever…

From Squire’s incredible guitar abilities, Remi’s fills and Mani’s bass topped off with the respect that Ian Brown receives from the crowd, its totally acceptable to suggest that if any one member was to leave or be replaced – the band just simply wouldn’t be… all four of equal importance to the overall sound.

Personally having gone to 3 of the 4 shows Wednesday night was probably my favourite Roses performance. Possibly not the strongest performance out of all the shows however you could really see the connection between all members of the band – the gel that holds them together, the little smiles that regularly occurred and the crowd more of the crowd were probably closer to my age group. That said – if you went to any of the shows you still would have been in for a real treat. Many of the crowd traveled far and wide. Speaking to a number of people over the three nights, attendees came from as far as south Brighton and as far north as Edinburgh.

Shoot You Down, Begging You, Waterfall, Don’t Stop, Elizabeth My Dear and Fools Gold saw the next list of classics before mixing it up with All For One. A track that has had social media split however as predicted, it didn’t fail to rock the majority of the fans.

After all that blurb in regards to band reunions being the notion of the desperate and the forgot about, the Roses still sound relevant and can most certainly hold their own. Ok, maybe they don’t party as hard as they did in 1989 but show me a 30 year old band that still still wants to.

When you can close a set off with 7 tracks that are even stronger than your opening 7, give me a call…

Moving on to the final part of the night with Love Spreads, Made of Stone, She Bangs the Drums, Breaking into Heaven, and This Is the One saw the fans showing no sign of slowing down. It can only be described as a 60,000 people sing along. Every word filling the Etihad louder than match day goals – a truly remarkable feeling and memory generating scenes before the band unsurprisingly finished of with Resurrection. A track that finished top in a recent FOTF poll securing 38% of the vote. What a way to spend one night let alone three!!

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As Ian thanked the crowd for their support and left the stage with the words “see you in 5 minutes to do it all again” some of the less experienced attendees may have been expecting an encore – well there is a first time for everything however we all had the pleasure of walking out to Beautiful Thing as the stadium lights were switched on. Fans across all four nights were well up for it – Are you in our Hall Of Fame?

© Jason Palmer | For Flick Of The Finger

© Jason Palmer | For Flick Of The Finger

Whats Next?

Rumours of a new album have been flying around social media however when it comes to the Roses – Who knows… we know they have some festivals lined up and a new album would most certainly be great because we all know what comes with new albums… tours! I guess all we can say for now is – ‘watch out for the next batch of lemons to appear’