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Originally posted July 19 2012 at 22:07 under Moments and Friends and General. Comments Disabled. Trackbacks Disabled. Last modified: 10 August 2012 at 15:00

Happy Memories
The Stone Roses (Obviously)

So what is this, a gig review site? Well, there may be a bit of a review coming up, involving a Friday stood in a field, following quickly on from the rather delayed last one. There’s more than just a review though—as Jan and I undertook something more like a tour of the north-west’s two premier cities


It began, as so many things do, on a Thursday. Trains are mainly boring experiences and this one was little different. It did however take us on a journey from Newcastle to Manchester. It hasn’t changed much since last we were there. So much so that it wasn’t difficult for us to find the way down from Piccadilly to the hotel. There was a bit of a problem as they initially declared they’d never heard of us and then, armed with a reservation number, decided we were supposed to be arriving in September! A few phone calls on their behalf later and they went from fully booked for the night to mysteriously having a room available (given it didn’t actually get serviced Friday I suspect it was some sort of reserve room, and wonder if anyone actually knew we were there!) Problem solved we wandered around Manchester for a bit, discovering the The Old Wellington to be as busy as ever. We also discovered that they’ve removed the big wheel, which meant we didn’t have the chance to add it to our collection in the daylight.

Manchester is still the city of random recorder players, though seems to now lack so many strange dancing people. There is for me though still that lack of je ne sais quoi. A city too large perhaps, too aware of its size. Or just not the better liked Liverpool.

Unfortunately things weren’t helped by Jan not feeling particularly well, so it was a night in the hotel room, with a short dash for me to find a McDonalds and two Big Macs. There’s a 24-hour spar at least, and after a quick call for a hairdryer at reception we had time for a night cap at the empty hotel bar which didn’t seem to have anything we wanted.


The Stone Roses on stage

The Stone Roses!!

Friday brought a bit more wandering around, doing nothing in particular. It didn’t seem like Stone Roses fans were taking over or drinking the place dry quite as much as Oasis fans had done a couple of years before. Confronted with our t-shirts the barman at the Bank (we seem to have inadvertently been frequenting Nicholsons pubs!) told us he was going Saturday. I told him I hoped the Roses would get as far as a second gig (which of course they did).

We’d called in their on the way to Manchester Art Gallery. Not too overwhelming, though a couple of nice Lowry’s (pity we didn’t really have the time or planning to visit the proper Lowry Gallery; on the list for next time).

Then, after a quick spruce up at the hotel, we went to find a bus. Oh dear. Having been to Heaton Park to see Oasis we thought this would be a simple enough affair, given the how smoothly that went. Far from it. It appears First, Manchester couldn’t organise a simple bus fleet. We joined the long, snaking queue awaiting buses, which initially seemed to be moving quickly enough. We were soon round the corner, and only then noticed the ticket office of an old bus selling the wrist bands for the journey (they seemed to have taken a bus window, with sliding part at the top, and spun it round to form a kiosk window with opening at the bottom). I snuck out of line to be stung be the frankly ridiculous £10 (!) price. The trouble with charging so much is that you really should have the transport then available. We stood. And stood. On the road beside us three cars got into a rear end pranging game. We were still stood in the same place by the time they’d sorted it out and moved on. At one point a minibus appeared, and took all of fifteen lucky souls away. The information varied between non-existent and contradictory (15 buses! 25! Stuck in traffic. More just coming from depot!) A complete shambles but we did eventually crowd on to a double decker to Heaton Park.

And were dropped off one heck of a walk from the arena. Then, having followed the hoards, realised that as we had VIP tickets we needed to get to a specific gate. So had to walk the long way round the outside of the venue, to another queue. Exclusive merchandise was collected (erm, a t-shirt and Jim ‘ll fix it badge, basically; plus beer and food tokens) we headed for…another queue. Why, having just checked our tickets they thought they should check everyone again is rather beyond me, as is why it took so long given that when we finally reached the front it was a simple scan of barcode and beep of machine. But there we stood, the muffled sounds of Primal Scream vaguely drifting over the high barriers. I held our place while Jan made use of the surprisingly not too busy portaloos near by.

Inside we found the bar, which was still busy but probably nowhere near as bad as in the main area. The slight chaos was personified by the barmaid who brought me Jan’s two pints but wandered off without bringing mine which meant I had to get someone else’s attention (though did save a couple of tokens). We found a pretty damn good pizza and burger too. Then on, into the venue proper, wending our way through the crowds (where I lost my camera, hence only phone pics).

Stone Roses
The amazing Stone Roses

The absolutely amazing Stone Roses

From the opening bars of I Wanna Be Adored you could tell they were back and here and with it. This was the Roses, live, together and they sounded fucking amazing. Okay, so Ian Brown isn’t going to win a pure singing talent contest any time soon but he has that thing lacking from the mass produced, cookie cutter, Britain’s Got The Same Old Shit new generation; sheer presence. Put that together with Squire, Mani and Reni playing like gods and you get something pretty untouchable. We sang along, we stood, grinning like mad people in utter awe. The setlist included every track from that seminal first album but more too, none of it sounding any less or out of place (I’ve never been one of these Second Coming haters; they could have played almost all of that album too and I would have been happy. As it was we got personal fave Ten Storey Love Song and some of the random singles, including a wonderful, drawn out Fools Gold). I’ve never heard a band play so many songs which are just as good as each other one after the other quite like that. They signed off with I Am The Resurrection and fireworks (no encore, despite the cries of “Don’t Stop” and still having some wonderful songs in reserve). Was it worth stupid buses, walking round the venue and all the queuing? Oh yes, in a heartbeat. *****. Reviewed by Ian Scott

The stupidity with the buses continued on the way back with an ill thought out queuing system seeing people rushing forwards back the way we’d just come every time a bus left. The angered mood on the bus was at least lightened for those lucky enough to be gazing through its windows at the right moment. In the lit window of one of the many suburban Manchester homes we passed stood an older middle-aged man in dressing gown, holding what looked like a rum and coke which he raised to our passing bus in salute. What made the moment even greater though was that this was the bedroom and in the bed his wife raised herself up to wave to us!

And then it was bedtime, with happy dreams.


Janet and John

Janet and John

Cavern Pub Singer

Singing in the Cavern Pub

Having done what we came to do we left Manchester behind after a quick cup of morning tea, catching the train to Liverpool. Coming out of Lime Street we rested up in the lovely Grade II listed Crown Hotel before heading to find where we were staying. Unlike Manchester, who’s map seems ingrained on my brain, no matter how many times I visit Liverpool always seems to leave me directionally challenged—maybe that’s one reason why it seems a bit more exciting. These days we have smart phones and Google Maps (and I’d even managed to print off a map before leaving home) so I did manage to navigate our way to our apartment, even if I did probably go a bit of a long way round. Settled in we went wandering around the city, delving into the Cavern Pub. If there’s one thing about Liverpool it’s its inability to move on from the Beatles. They’re everywhere. For a fan like Jan this is wonderful but someone who never real got what the over-hyped fuss was about, like me, it’s just a bit tiresome. Anyway, I listened to the singer do his best not to murder a Beatles number and an Oasis song before we headed for the docks and the big wheel. Having found the ferris in Manchester gone we could at least add Liverpool’s to our collection.

With afternoon giving way to evening we found a fish and chip shop for food, first diving into the nearby Tesco to buy ketchup and vinegar to take back to the apartment with us. They did make for a tasty conclusion to the day.

Liverpool's Big Wheel

That big wheel


Sunday was a bit chilly so Jan ended up buying a Beatles fleece from the Beatles Story shop (<sigh> more Beatles). Then we went to look at Tate Liverpool. To be honest it didn’t seem as interesting and engaging as it has on previous visits—perhaps just unlucky with the exhibits at the time.

After that bit of culture we did some more wandering around the city, taking in more shops. This included one shop with a dog who had a problem with hats (seriously, it saw me—wearing hat—and rose from its quiet slumber on the counter to growl. Having been informed of the problem by the proprietor I removed my hat, which did indeed placate it. Still didn’t like Jan though, who kept her hat on). We also discovered York isn’t the only place with a Shared Earth, which led to the acquisition of far too many trinkets. At least the people of Liverpool appreciated my hat, unlike they’re dogs, one passer-by breaking into stereotypical character to inform me it was “sound”.

Eventually we wound our way back to the Crown, avoiding the march going past the station. We tried to get something to eat, but the chef had vanished. So we waited until we saw food beginning to appear, indicating his return. After that it was back to the apartment for quiet time, and the Euro 2012 final.


Cavern Club

The Famous Cavern

As we were packing to leave the maintenance man knocked on the door to replace a light bulb we hadn’t noticed was missing (it was one of those above the hob—what they really need is some brighter lighting in the bathroom). He also mentioned he’d spotted us in the pub round the corner the afternoon before, which just goes to show nothing gets past the people of Liverpool. Anyway, all packed we took the luggage to be left in left luggage at the station and hunted round for something to do, in the rain.

Despite the fact the obviously out of date guide book in the apartment told us it was closed Mondays the Walker Gallery was open. It made a distraction for a little while at least, made the more interesting by a Rolf Harris exhibit. After that there’s was just time for a visit to the actual Cavern Club (oh yes, more Beatles) to satisfy the Pixie. Then it was the long train home, at last!

Update: A bit of phone recorded audio from the gig added so you can hear how awsome the Roses were (though obviously they were so much, much better in real life)


This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

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