20 Years ago today, the Roses blew Glasgow away

“On 9 June the Roses played Glasgow Green, a show that was for many perhaps their finest-ever live performance. The show itself was a killer – it was blistering and it was loud. It seemed then like The Stone Roses were invincible, an unstoppable force, a band that touched people’s hearts and souls. They had the tunes and the attitude.”
– John Robb (The Stone Roses and the Resurrection of British Pop

It’s 20 years today since The Stone Roses played arguably one of their best ever gigs, Glasgow Green. After the less than perfect performance at Spike Island, the Roses wanted to prove to the British press that they could still do it live.

“When we were on stage that day, we all looked at each other, and then just went up another level”.
– Mani

The atmosphere was amazingly intense, with the big top tent amplifying the atmosphere and the heat. The first and last time I experienced in-door rain!

The gig was also significant for another reason – it the Roses last gig for five years, and Reni’s last live performance with the Roses.

If you were there, then please leave a comment with your memories of the gig.

Melody Maker Review, 16th June 1990

I HAVE seen the future of the much-vaunted indie/club groove crossover and it gladdened my heart. I have seen hundreds of floppy fringed hormone cases flip their wigs to a sound so heavy and, hell, modern that it caught in your throat. I have seen a venue in which every punter, not just the front rows, shook themselves silly to a band of yobbish, youthful swaggering shitkickers with the future in their sweaty grasp. Unfortunately that was The Charlatans at The Mayfair last Thursday. The Stone Roses at Glasgow Green, on the other hand, poured buckets of listless sonic slurry over their over-charged, over-drugged audience in a venue that, thanks to its unique acrylic properties, literally pissed on you. It was a bad trip.

Few things in life are as billed. Tonight’s venue, Glasgow Green, is, in the main, a verdant stretch of parkland situated right in the heart of Glasgow’s post-industrial city centre. Any gig here, in the crystal shadow of the sumptuous Winter Gardens, is bound to have the angels on its side. The billowing marquee that will house tonight’s show has, however, been pitched on the site’s one blackspot, a gravel wasteland on the lip of the River Clyde. It has barely had time to recover from last week’s Big Day, and the piles of detritus form a depressing welcome for the 8000 devotees this humid Saturday evening.

The compound itself brings to mind Dante’s Second Circle Of Hell. The acrid stench of frying onions from hotdog stalls mingles queasily with dope fumes. Even though the Roses have waded through the opening “I Wanna Be Adored” and are presently occupied with an appallingly muddy “Elephant Stone”, hundreds of fans are loitering in the compound, glassy-eyed, dehydrated, maybe demoralised by the mumbling, muffle output from the PA. Smiley faces in the “O” sweeten the sign announcing tee-shirts at £10 a throw.

Inside the tent, it’s Tardis time. From the outside, the construction looked like a quaint, turreted plastic fun castle. Inside, however, the dimensions are roughly congruent with the worst of Britain’s converted aircraft hangers and conference centres. Only the unmistakeable kinetic contours of Ian Brown’s Supermarionation stage shuffle prove that the dots in the next postcode are the real Manc-coy and not some scam-friendly imposters.

Inside, of course, it’s a sauna set to music. The thousands who brave the crippling humidity obviously consider this no bad thing and rapturously receive a perfunctory run-through of the set premiered in Stockholm and consolidated on Spike Island, ie: all the hits, “One Love”, “Something’s Burning” and a “Fools Gold” that segues into “Where Angels Play”.

As has come to be expected, the band are on autopilot, both distant and distanced from the school-kids and unwaged urchins who have blown a month’s spending money on this shindig. The only words uttered by Brown all evening are the “Ta!” that follows “Waterfall”. His one unscripted action is to hold a “Stone Roses at Glasgow Green” tee-shirt aloft during “Sally Cinnamon”. Bad venue, bad sound, bad attitude.

As Everett True noted, apropos Spike Island, the fineries of punter-satisfaction and professional pride are mere bagatelles to the Roses these days. Doing it is of no importance to them, but rubbing their success into the faces of the doubters and sceptics is.

What we came across more than anything else tonight, though, was the band’s ennui with even this pettiest of satisfactions. Why bother going to the trouble of avoiding traditional rock touring habits when all you have to offer your relocated audience is a dose of Sex Pistols surliness to the power of 10? Even the Pistols cared passionately about not caring. The Stone Roses, however, can’t even motivate themselves that far. They may well be our first true post-modern pop band, in that the cumulative ebbs and flows of culture have sapped them of any vestige of real emotion or opinion. When every rock stance and icon has been permutated into infinity, the only attitude left is resignation.

The Stone Roses are, in reality, little more than the sound of a sigh made flesh. How else do you explain the airy ambivalence of their music, of Squire’s untethered, over-chorused guitar lines, Brown’s wandering whines or the druggy, Floydian pointilistic new material? The claim that the band have now nailed their colours firmly to the mast of club culture were similarly blasted into atoms by The Charlatans gig, by the sight of a band so wired they made the Roses look opportunistic by comparison. Just as the Roses came along and made Morrissey the relic he is, The Charlatans will in time show how risibly unmotivated and stupefied The Stone Roses really are. Tonight was more blind man’s zoo than rock ‘n’ roll circus. If we’re lucky it might turn out to be the night The Stone Roses finally Topped themselves.

Sounds Live Review, 16th June 1990

This was always going to be more of an event than something as one-dimensional as a mere rock show. And to say there was an air of expectancy about the assembled multitude of 7000 would be an understatement bordering on the absurd. To the unconvinced it all seems strangely impenetrable. Let’s face it, what we’re dealing with here appears to be little more than innocuous indie pop at its most definitively British, yet the crowd’s response to these self-same dreamy pop tunes pulls them out of their introspective cocoon and catapults them into the realm of no quarter battle cries. Even if you’re not unequivocably with them from the off it’s impossible not to respond to the dimensions of the spectacle unfolding in your head wherein the Roses bombard the senses with a recipe way more impressive than anything encountered on their collected discography.

Appropriately enough, with World Cup fever heavy in the air, the opening I Wanna Be Adored rings out like a pantomime anthem from the terraces. But hold on. Just as you pause to reflect how thoroughly British it all is along comes the eight minute psych-funk spectacular Fools Gold, meandering along on what are quintessential American influences; a guitar sound ‘borrowed’ from the depth of Electric Ladyland via Issac Hayes’ Theme From Shaft – which ushers in a succession of smouldering wah-wah firestorms that continue through Waterfall and Made Of Stone finding their conclusion in I Am The Resurrection. Then, like special effect triggered on cue – thanks to the weird atmospheric conditions by this time prevailing under canvas due to the build up of condensation – it actually starts to rain inside the tent. It felt as if the entire Big Top had been levitated inside a huge jet engine with the throttle jammed at maximum thrust as John Squire did his best to outdo the howling flashburn hell of Hendrix’s anti-‘Nam lament, Machine Gun.

Meanwhile … his mike forever held aloft like an enchanted candy apple, Ian Brown exudes all the unlikeliness of Jim Morrison reincarnated as an acid-damaged alter boy. He looks like he hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing but his anti-presence belies his role as master choreographer of psy-kick elevation. At the close of I Am The Resurrection he holds his bongos aloft like a triumphant salute signalling the end of the orgy of sweat, volume and euphoria. It’s a finale that’s impossible to top. After the stampede for the exits all that’s left is an eerie silence, a pronounced ringing in the ears, a thick mist floating in the upper reaches of the Big Top and a realisation one and all had witnessed something quite extraordinary. All these guys need now is a cover of Blake’s Jerusalem and they’ll have well and truly wrapped up the great British institution of the rock show as mass out-of-mind and body experience.