The Stone Roses - Warrington Parr Hall - View from the fans eyes
It was a Wednesday just like any other for me as a musician, except it was scorching hot. I spent the morning in Warrington at my dads, took my mum to work around midday and then got back on the M60 and returned home to Didsbury at around 4 o clock. I had no food in so I thought I better go shopping. Whilst getting ready, I was on the phone to Southern Electric who were threatening to cut off my gas and electricity due to none payment. Habitually multitasking, I checked my emails at approximately 4:09pm only to find “The Stone Roses will play a free concert tonight at Warrington Parr Hall”. Frantically scanning the email, I caught a glimpse of the vital info, mainly “Fans can collect one wristband per person from the Warrington Pyramid box office (next to Warrington Parr Hall) from 4pm today”. Without thinking, I hung up without saying a word, grabbed my car keys, ran downstairs and jumped straight into the car. The engine starts, my tires screech down lapwing lane as I head straight for the M56. I’ve never driven to the centre of Warrington before! I’ve only been driving since February, my dad lives in the suburb of Birchwood on the other side of town and whilst I’ve been to the Parr Hall before, that was on the train and Warrington really gets on my nerves with all of the roundabouts. Luckily, the reason I’d called into my dads that morning was borrow his Sat Nav for a trip I’ve been planning so I turned that on and off down the motorway I went. My 1.0L VW Polo has never seen such punishment, as the speedometer climbed to about 110mph. I’m in the third lane, doing all of the things that I criticize other drivers for doing. I’m cutting people up, I’m undertaking, I’m putting my foot firmly on the ground when I see an amber light. I’m speeding!!! I don’t speed!!! I’m the kind of person that usually experiences “highway amnesia”, meaning that I can drive a journey and arrive at my destination and hardly remember most of it. Not this time, although I was in some kind of trance. Grinding my teeth whilst looking at the ETA numbers on the TomTom get lower and lower, I’m thinking of all the negative scenarios; Small venue, one of the biggest bands in the world. I got the email 9 minutes after the wristbands were released and I live miles away. They will have all gone. I got an email, what if it was also announced on Facebook and Twitter, oh god, not Facebook and Twitter!! I don’t stand a chance! Then, I start to believe. I start to think of the positives; You need something Stone Roses related to get a ticket. I had my t shirt, I grabbed 3 CD’s and I had my Heaton Park tickets on me. People will be in work, they will have to nip home…I have an advantage because I was sat at home when I saw it. Then I thought, this sort of thing happens to me all of the time. I had a VIP pass for Glastonbury in 2007. I saw James at the Academy 4, again in 2007. I went to Live 8 and saw Pink Floyd, not because I won tickets, but because a mate couldn’t go. Then I thought of all of the negatives yet again. A real whirlwind of emotions!
My patience was running out by the time I got to Grappenhall. The traffic was horrendous and by the time I was close enough to the centre of Warrington, I dumped the car and ran the rest of the way to the Parr Hall. It is worth pointing out at this point that I had just quit smoking 3 weeks previously after a 10 year stint on them and the last time I ran was around 3 years ago when I thought it would be a good idea to get fit (I ended up having a crying fit for 45 minutes after a 30 second sprint in Fog Lane Park left me feeling like I had done 10 rounds). I got there, I saw the queue and I didn’t know what to think. Was the panic over? Had I missed out? The camera man, who was just putting it in my face without asking any questions offered his opinion: “You’ll be alright” he said to me…I struggled to believe him. My hopes were raised a bit when the guy in front of me already had a wristband and was just saving the place for his friend. He told me that he was one of the first to get one and that, based on his counting, we would get a wristband. I still wouldn’t believe it. Then a friend of mine and his wife walked past! I shouted them over and we exchanged stories of dropping everything and getting here. They have a young son…I dread to think! What happened next was as much confirmation as I needed, but it still didn’t seem real. The security guards gave my Heaton Park tickets and CD’s a once over, stamped my hand, gave me a raffle ticket and told me to join the other queue in the car park, by the entrance to the box office! This was it wasn’t it? Wristband on, Heaton Park tickets in hand, stamped with “The Stone Roses 23.05.12. I Was There” I tried to take it all in. I now had to sort logistics out. I ended up dashing home, having a shower due to the insanely hot weather and got on the next train from Burnage to Warrington Central. If I was gonna see The Stone Roses, I was gonna have a few drinks! I drew £40 from the cash machine to pay for such escapades and it gave me £50! Could this day get any better?
The rest of the evening seemed to go really fast and before I knew it I was inside Warrington Parr Hall, queuing to get to the bar next to former Manchester City player Paul Lake and Stone Roses official biographer John Robb. The atmosphere in the room was strange, but in a good way.
Stoned Love by The Supremes was the choice of walk on track for The Stone Roses and as the the four of them emerged I was cheering, jumping and spilling beer everywhere as I’d stocked up so I wouldn’t have to go to the bar. Stood in my usual place for every gig I go to (at the back, next to the sound desk), everyone around me was feeling the same way. I bumped into a few mates who I go to United games with which made it even more spectacular. It’s been an awful last month or so with City winning the league, my own band being in slight turmoil and other things, but at least The Stone Roses are reds (for the most part) and the “K Stand Reunion” me and my friends were predicting for Heaton Park had come to fruition a month early, completely by accident. Then it started. I think I broke my face with the size of my smile. The opening bass line from I Wanna Be Adored could barely be heard due to people ‘der der dering’ along and you could forget about being able to hear Ian Brown’s vocals at this point. Who needed to hear it? We were all here, we were witnessing history. It had been exactly 21 years, 11 months and 15 days since Ian & John & Mani & Reni had last played together in what many consider to be their greatest ever gig on Glasgow Green. Almost 22 years had passed and the anticipation and the hunger for this reunion were ever present throughout those years. The rest of the set just felt like a dream. I was higher than the sun. This was having a greater effect on me than any drug could ever have. Mersey Paradise came next, then Sally Cinnamon, then Made of Stone, after which, Ian Brown decided to have a dig at the hordes of people who he said “weren’t living in the moment” by filming the gig on their phones instead of watching it. I agreed wholeheartedly.
Later in the set, my 2 all time favorite Stone Roses songs were played, much to my surprise. Less so with Where Angels Play but when they began playing Tightrope I was just in heaven. I love The Second Coming and always have and to hear an album track from it took me, and I think everyone else, by surprise! After that it was Waterfall, She Bangs The Drums and Love Spreads and it was all over. I’d just spent the best part of an hour in a room with 800 other people watching The Stone Roses. Trying to read what was on Ian’s t-shirt, perving on John Squire’s beautiful guitars and Reni’s spectacular drum set up. The house lights came up as soon as they left the stage and although we all waited for I Am The Resurrection, no encore ensued. Shane Meadows stood on the stage, camera in hand, filming for his documentary about the band, whilst the road crew dissembled the drum kit and John Squires 4 Mesa Boogie combo amps. Redemption Song played through the PA. Perfect.
Reluctantly spilling out on to the streets, there were camera crews everywhere, making sure that every last bit of the history was captured. I was interviewed. They asked about the night and what I thought about Ian’s voice. I was drunk on music, and on alcohol, which is probably why, halfway through the interview I shouted “Look, its Jimmy from Puressence!!! JIMMY!!!!”. I somehow doubt they will use the interview now.
I got the last train back to Oxford Road, nipped into Spar to get some cans of Stella for the bus ride home and asked a lad with a Stone Roses t shirt on if he had been to the gig. He had been to see The Enemy at Manchester Academy instead. Poor guy, I really felt for him as I saw them a couple of years ago at the same venue…not good, in case you were wondering.
The day after was a slow one and I spent the day listening to The Stone Roses and picking out lyrics that helped me make sense of what happened. I felt like I was coming down from 10 E’s, or a dose of Heroin. I honestly did feel like no matter what I did or planned to do in the future, nothing would top the night before. I imagine that’s how class A drugs make you feel. I reflected on the day before, feeling bad for a couple of my mates who had been there in the early days, were at Blackpool and Spike Island, yet missed out on last night. Then I remembered that I was there and I was too young to be at Blackpool and Spike Island. Kiss me where the sun don’t shine, the past was yours but the futures mine
Sam Smith is singer songwriter in the band Sam Smith & Company. Listen to his own material here http://www.facebook.com/samsmithandcompany
Read the official review of the gig here
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