Just over a week and a half ago, The Stone Roses, one of the seminal bands from the late 80’s / early 90’s Madchester scene made their return to the live stage with a special free show for fans, announced just a few hours before the group played.
It was by all accounts an exhilarating gig and certainly the small amount of footage on You Tube (below) shows a crowd buoyed with can’t-believe-their-luck-joy as the Roses made their second coming. However despite the obvious pleasure the band were giving people in the audience, there seemed to be a large amount of negativity around their return as well. Here are some of the main comments / arguments that we saw put forward on the internet (both when the reformation was announced and immediately before and after the gig) and why we’re standing up against these arguments – at least until they’ve played their summer shows (where we reserve the right to change our mind)
1. They’re only reforming for the money
They may well be. They may not. The band reportedly each received near to £ 2,000,000 advance for the gigs they’re playing this summer. But does it actually matter if they’re only doing it for the money? The music industry seems to be constantly winging that nobody is making any money anymore but when somebody does, a certain sector of people give a cynical view of this. Is there really anything wrong with artists being rewarded financially for their art? We don’t think so.
The issue here really boils down to will they be any good, irrespective of motivation and will they give people pleasure? If people feel short changed after the summer gigs (and we’ll ignore the Warrington gig because this was a free show), then the cost of the tickets becomes an issue. If however The Stone Roses pull it off and have a bunch of happy customers, who cares if they’re doing it for the money, friendship, drugs or a pat on the back from their mums ? Value for money counts volumes.
2. What’s the point of just wallowing in nostalgia?
Because it makes a lot of people happy. Nostalgia seems to be a bad word for some people as if everything has to be forward looking. Creative types are often spurred on to the future rather than looking back, but a large number of people like to look back, to feel warm about where they’ve come from. Is there really anything bad about making people feel happy? Only if you’re a very miserable person with fundamental issues about what is important in life.
3. Bands that reform are never as good as they were back when they were originally together and are just a parody of their former selves.
There are exceptions that break the rule. Pulp’s reunion shows last year received much public and critical adoration. Take That’s come back shows found hundreds of thousands of fans delighted. Yes many bands that reform are poor, but not everyone is. The Stone Roses even in their prime were a terrible live band many a time. We first saw them at the West End Centre in Aldershot, March 1989. The ticket was £2.99. It didn’t seem very good value. Ian Brown’s voice was terribly flat, the swagger of the band wasn’t there and the songs seemed non-existent . A year or two later we caught them again at the much larger Brixton Academy and the gig was hugely impressive. The point is that some bands are good sometimes and bad other times. We can’t predict with 100% accuracy if they will be good or bad until we’ve gone to see them.
4. They’re going to playing to a bunch of old bald fat blokes as their audience – it’s disgusting. (An actual comment we saw on twitter)
No it’s not. This is an ageist comment. Imagine if we replaced the word ‘old’ with ‘black’. There would probably be an outcry about people passing comments like that, but somehow it’s OK to single out old people. As difficult as it may be for some to understand, old people like music too. Just because somebody is old or bald or fat doesn’t make them a twat. Acting like a twat makes you a twat. Whatever age you are.
5. They’ll destroy their own legacy.
Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. Let’s not jump to assumptions.
6. They need to go away because the whole Madchester legacy destroys the bands trying to break out of Manchester now.
The Stone Roses (first time round) were important enough to people to not be easily forgotten. Bands who blame the impact of the Madchester scene or any other scene in any other city for stopping them getting the attention they think they deserve need to buckle down and work to get themselves noticed. They need to play better and be better than every band that has gone before them. You don’t get anywhere by blaming everyone else.
So there you have it – it’s our defence of The Stone Roses or in fact any band that decides to reform. We won’t be seeing them ourselves. We’d rather spend the same amount of money as a ticket for The Stone Roses on seeing 6 or 7 shows by new bands that we haven’t seen before. But we wouldn’t deny anyone who is going to the Roses gigs this summer their slice of happiness.
The Stone Roses - What The Free Gig Meant To Fans
The Stone Roses - Warrington Free Gig - Opening Moments Of The Show & Audience Reaction