25 Years Ago: The Stone Roses Play a Legendary Show in Glasgow
British pop group the Stone Roses experienced a quick rise to the top, followed by an almost equally quick decline from prominence. The apex of their short career seems to have occurred in 1990, when they played to some 8,000 fans inside a giant tent at Glasgow Green, 25 years ago today, June 9.
The Stone Roses formed in Manchester in 1983, writing and playing shows for six years before releasing their debut self-titled album in 1989. The first couple of singles didn't fare well on the British charts, but the band still gained a large following as they toured to support the new disc.
The band was likely motivated to put on a great show in Glasgow by the poor performance and all-around bad time had by all during their previous gig at Spike Island in front of 27,000 fans, including a young Noel Gallagher. That performance would also go down in history as an important show, despite major sound problems and a lackluster performance from the band. By all accounts, though, the amount of drugs being consumed in the crowd made sure fans still enjoyed themselves:
Unlike the open-air concert at Spike Island, the performance at Glasgow Green took place inside a giant pop-up tent. The weather was hot and wet, and rain ensured maximum humidity, making the choice to play in a tent questionable at best. Once the tent was full of rowdy kids, condensation began to form, and as it soon began falling, it created the unpleasant phenomenon of indoor rain.
The show itself, however, would become the stuff of legend. A review of the concert from Sounds Live makes the event sound like some supernatural occurrence.
Even if you’re not unequivocally 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.
As NME's Alan Woodhouse put it, "[I have] never, before or since, witnessed a more passionate, up-for-it crowd than the 10,000 or so who crammed into the big top that night. It was like being at a football match where everyone was supporting the same team."
Not everyone was so impressed with the Stone Roses' performance, though. A review of the show from Melody Maker reads like a sneering music snob armed with an expensive vocabulary and a general disposition toward frowning.
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.
Good or bad, the performance at Glasgow Green would prove to be the climax of the band's story, and their last show for five years (and final gig with drummer Reni until the band reunited in 2012). While they remained together for another six years, they wouldn't reach the same heights again.
Soon after the show in Glasgow, the Stone Roses tried to get out of their contract with their record label. They signed to Geffen Records, but a legal battle with their old label kept them from releasing a second album until 1994. Their next album, Second Coming, found a mixed reception from the general public. The group disbanded in 1996.
After the Stone Roses reunited, they've played a few shows, and rumors have circulated that they're working on new material -- but we have yet to hear anything.
Listen to the Stone Roses Perform "Waterfall" on June 9, 1990
The Stone Roses -- Setlist, June 9, 1990
“I Wanna Be Adored”
“She Bangs the Drums”
“Shoot You Down”
“(Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister”
“Where Angels Play”
“Made of Stone”
“Elizabeth My Dear”
“I Am the Resurrection”