Roses rock again

PROFILE: THE STONE ROSES: Manchester’s fab four have buried their differences and are getting back together to conquer the world…


PROFILE: THE STONE ROSES:Manchester's fab four have buried their differences and are getting back together to conquer the world – not for money, of course

IT’S THE RESURRECTION the music world has been waiting for: 15 years after splitting in chaos and acrimony, The Stone Roses have re-formed, and fans are eagerly anticipating the “third coming” of Manchester’s own fab four. The band had promised to reform only when hell freezes over, or, as their bass player, Gary “Mani” Mounfield, put it, when Manchester City wins the Champions League. And, as the latter seems unlikely, we can only conclude that the devil now wears ice skates.

The band made the announcement in London on Tuesday afternoon. Where they were once dour and reticent in interviews, the four, now nearing their 50s, were all chat and good humour. “Our plan is to take over the world,” said Ian Brown, their singer. “If anyone buys the tickets, of course,” added Alan “Reni” Wren, their drummer.

The reunited rockers needn’t worry: it’s a safe bet that tickets for their two concerts in Manchester, on June 29th and 30th next year, will sell out; already a third gig is likely. There’s still a lot of love around for the band who, along with Happy Mondays, were most closely associated with the “Madchester” scene of the late 1980s.

READ MORE

Their self-titled debut album still features in many 10-best-records-of-all-time lists, and the band ranks high in most “bands we’d like to see re-form” polls, along with their fellow Mancunians The Smiths. Over the past 15 years, the band have turned down several lucrative offers to re-form, but they insist they haven’t re-formed for money. “The money’s always been on the table,” said Brown. Still, with a projected €9.5 million in ticket sales for their hometown shows alone, the reunion will give the band a financial fillip. Since the announcement, sales of their back catalogue have jumped a thousandfold.

With so many bands reuniting for one last pension top-up, it's hard to see how The Stone Roses are going to bring anything fresh to the retirement party. They've promised to play new material, but the crowd will want to hear only such classic songs as Waterfall, She Bangs the Drums, I Wanna Be Adored, Fool's Goldand I Am the Resurrection.

Since their break-up, the four have fared rather differently. After drumming in a handful of ill-fated bands, Reni retired to concentrate on family life; he admits he has a mountain to climb to get back to his original form behind the drumkit.

The guitarist, John Squire, who composed the band’s music and created their striking, Jackson Pollock-inspired artwork, formed the short-lived Britpop band The Seahorses, then released a couple of solo albums before moving from music to concentrate on art. Mani joined Primal Scream, from which he will take leave of absence.

Brown has carved out a creditable, if workmanlike, solo career, releasing six albums. More recently, he has been packing his live set with Stone Roses songs, fuelling rumours of a reunion.

THE SAGA OF The Stone Roses began as far back as 1980, when Brown and Squire, who had grown up two doors from each other in Sale, Lancashire, formed their first band, The Patrol, changing their name to English Rose after one of their favourite Jam songs. Reni joined in 1984, and the band became The Stone Roses, in honour of their favourite band, The Rolling Stones. With the addition of Mani in 1987, and the release of the 12-inch single Sally Cinnamon, the Roses were on the way to becoming the darlings of the indie music press, and cult figures in their home town. They had the jangly, Creation Records-era psychedelic sound, and their debut album was a near-perfect collection of 1960s-influenced classics, from the rumbling bass of I Wanna Be Adoredto the soaring climax of I Am the Resurrection.

A torturous studio sojourn followed, and rumours of cocaine use during their sessions in Rockfield Studios in Wales seeped into the music press. The band were taking so long that the record company sent two executives to find out what was going on. Eventually, their second album, cheekily titled Second Coming, came out to mixed reviews, five years after their debut. Many fans felt alienated by the riff-heavy Zeppelin-influenced sound of songs such as Love Spreads, but the album hit No 4 in the UK and nosed into the US top 50.

But behind the swaggering, metallic rock sound, the band were cracking. Reni quit in March 1995, and the band had to pull out of their headlining slot at Glastonbury after Squire had a mountain-biking accident. Their place was taken by Oasis, who stole what little was left of The Stone Roses’ thunder. Squire quit in early 1996, but Brown and Mani carried on with new recruits. After lacklustre festival appearances (including a slot at Féile ’96 in Cork), the band finally called it a day.

In March 2009, amid rumours of a reunion, Squire posted a message on his website: “I have no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses.” However, the funeral of Mani’s mother earlier this year brought them together. “It was surreal. We went from crying, laughing about the old days, to writing songs in a heartbeat. I think in some ways it’s a friendship that defines us, and it needed fixing. So there is no grave,” Squire said.

This week, Liam Gallagher tweeted his delight at the reunion: “Not been this happy since my kids were born.” Let’s see whether the band deliver on their promise to “uplift people” or if it turns out to be just another soul-destroying exercise in reliving the past.

Curriculum vitae

Who are they?Seminal Manchester band, leading lights of the "baggy" movement.

Why are they in the news?They're getting back together and doing a world tour.

Most appealing characteristicsGreat songs, great cover art.

Least appealing characteristicsIan Brown's tuneless vocals and John Squire's endless guitar noodling.

Most likely to say"We are the resurrection."

Least likely to say"We'll do it for fool's gold."