2nd November 2015. Overnight, across Manchester’s Northern Quarter a sequence of iconic lemon posters have miraculously appeared, a symbol intrinsically linked with The Stone Roses since its appearance on their self-titled debut album in 1989. Cue an internet shitstorm and Twitter meltdown suggesting that the Roses are coming back with a brand new album and a kick-arse world tour to boot.
Considering the grandiose nature of the rumours, the fact that the announcement was for only two shows at Manchester’s Etihad Arena and a festival headline spot at T in the Park was somewhat comparable to a Roman candle rocketing into the sky full of promise only to explode into a mediocre splatter of orange sparks.
Although, I’m being unfair. This is the Stone Roses. There’s a reason why there was such excitement across the web about them maybe releasing a new album and embarking on a massive tour: they’ve been vital in not only influencing but practically creating half of the indie music that has been released on these fair shores over the past 25 years. Their debut was voted the best British album of all-time in an NME poll in 2006. Without them, there would be no Oasis, no Kasabian, no Arctic Monkeys; an ongoing plethora of names that have been the biggest in the British music biz for the past two and a half decades.
As such, even if the actual announcement was a little bit of a let-down, it is still very, very big news. You can expect that come Friday afternoon when the tickets for their Manchester shows in June next year have sold out, there’ll be thousands across the country feeling smugly delighted and even more thousands sitting quietly in a corner cursing their computers’ refresh buttons. But what does this announcement actually mean other than a few more fans getting a chance to see an institution of British music?
There has been no formal confirmation of any new material; not yet at least. Noel Gallagher, when asked recently whether he knew anything about the Roses’ future in an interview on Soccer AM, mused that the band are ‘blooming’, perhaps hinting at new life (and new music) in them yet. However it certainly seems strange for the band to have announced these new dates after over 2 years in complete silence. Unless the motive is monetary (which seems unlikely considering the whopping great cash cow that was their 2012 reunion), then there must be a reason for returning so spontaneously.
Another question that needs asking is whether this is even a good idea; are they still up to it? The marquee Heaton Park reunion shows were almost universally acclaimed, and I can attest having been there (I promise I’m not gloating) that they felt almost historical, as if what you were witnessing and listening to was being passed into the annals to be talked about for years to come. But three years have passed, and even the reunion wasn’t without its blips; Reni walking offstage mid-gig in Amsterdam prompting Ian Brown to tell the audience ‘the drummer’s a cunt’ was a particularly memorable nadir.
Furthermore, the reunion trail has been quite heavily trodden in recent years. Fleetwood Mac, Pulp, Pixies and the Roses themselves have all profited healthily from the nostalgia factor. The Roses should take a leaf out of Blur’s or The Libertines’ book and record a new album to accompany their continued reunion and ensure that the whole thing doesn’t go stale.
This is made ever more pertinent by the fact that the band may also be embarking on the festival trail, in situations where fans at the shows haven’t necessarily come to the festival to see that particular artist. With one headliner slot already confirmed at T in the Park in July next year, more may be set to follow. And then of course there are the fairytale Glastonbury rumours, which will persist more so now that the Roses’ odds have been slashed to make them joint favourites with Adele. The band famously pulled out of headlining the festival in 1995 amidst a flurry of arguments and bust-ups that saw them split the following year. The notion of them returning triumphant is a romantic one. They’ve got the classic tunes; they just need to make sure they can still deliver the goods.
In truth, I think it’s likely that there will be some new Roses material at some point in the maybe-near-but-perhaps-more-middle-distance-and-hopefully-not-too-far future. After all, at the press conference announcing their reunion all the way back in 2011, the band did promise the fans new music. Well, the fans have been waiting for 4 years now; it’s time to deliver. Although, in fairness, this is very Roses: there were 4 years between their first single and first album, and 5 years between their first album and the follow-up, Second Coming. Why are we surprised that it has yet again taken an age (and, interestingly, the extinction of 7 different species of animal) for them to get even remotely closer to another new release.
So, the commanding feelings towards The Stone Roses’ new revelation? For me, it’s got to be an uneasy cocktail of apprehension and excitement. I can’t help but feel pangs of worry that they might not live up to the hype that surrounds them. After the success of the reunion shows, fans are bound to be expecting something equally as impressive.
But then, this new announcement also suggests that new life has been breathed into a band that deserve to be cherished within the music industry but have lay dormant for a few years. The hope is that these shows are the start of something even bigger that will see the Roses finally release a third album. So come Friday morning, I and thousands of others will be sat, debit cards at the ready, student loans at the altar of sacrifice, poised to secure tickets for one of their shows. And, given the chance and 7 lukewarm pints of overpriced lager, I’ll be losing my shit down the front to “She Bangs the Drums” with the rest of them.