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Resurrection – Stone Roses play first gig in 16 years

They said it would never happen, though the cynical among us would wager that ‘they’ didn’t include their bank managers. But after a 16 year hiatus, the Stone Roses returned with a free show at Warrington Parr Hall. Announcing it on their official website, wristbands were given out (one per person) to the first 1500 people who turned up clutching a Roses album, ticket or t-shirt. Simultaneously altruistic and arrogant – ‘prove you really love us’ – it’s classic Roses.

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Same as it ever was – T in the Park 2012 line-up announced

If, in the build-up to the official announcement, you had asked me to name the line-up for T in the Park 2012, I’d have looked at the one headliner already announced – The Stone Roses – and then added two more. ‘Fucking Kasabian‘, I would have said, before adding drily ‘oh, and Snow Patrol, obviously.’ Then we’d have laughed at my little joke and then speculated on who it might actually be.

Well, the announcement came today. And the headliners are in fact The Stone Roses, Fucking Kasabian and Snow Patrol. Really.

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I am the ongoing resurrection – Stone Roses announce more dates

Whilst it was inevitable that the Stone Roses comeback shows at Heaton Park were highly unlikely to be all she wrote, from a marketing point of view it made perfect sense not to go on about it too much. After all, would there have been such a fantastic scramble for tickets – a staggering 225,000 sold in a day, remember – if people had known that they could just sit tight and wait for the band to come to them?

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It’s all over now – Albums that signalled the end

Second ComingTime is versatile. There appears to be no end to the things it can do. It heals all wounds, for example. It flexes like a whore and, falls wanking to the floor, for some reason. But the main thing it does – apart from the exhibitionist self-abuse – is that it waits for no man. We have to accept, as Ian McCulloch so sagely noted, that nothing ever lasts forever. Not even John Barrowman shows – it just feels that way.

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The Friday 5 – 5 Great Musical Cities

Ah, Friday, Friday here again in tidy attire, to paraphrase Blur. The weekend starts here good buddies – or will at home time – and through all the rock’n’roll excess which I’m sure you will engage in let’s reconnect with our spiritual sides. Or get drunk and start crying, one of the two.

Anyway, this weeks Friday 5 takes in scenes. Is there anything the music press like more than a scene? Groups of talented young people, hailing from the same area with a new sound that the kids go crazy for. Mostly, these are false dawns created by an angle-hungry press, but occasionally it simply is an explosion of creativity. Here are a few of the better ones……..

Seattle

The early 90’s really was a boom time for this rainy US city. On top of the alliterative rom-com which bore its name, it was also the setting for that finest of sit-coms, Frasier. And of course, we are all grateful for Starbucks….

But mention it to any music fan and they’ll think of only one thing; Grunge. Yes, as the 80’s became the 90’s, gangs of young kids would get together, play a music influenced by punk, metal and hardcore and take drugs. It was a rich source of talent in the early days, with acts such as Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Tad,  Screaming Trees and of course Nirvana all living there and recording for local label Sub Pop.

It was the last of these acts who turned a local scene into a worldwide phenomenon with their seminal ‘Nevermind’ album, which every vaguely alternative teen on the planet owned in 1992. The music was loud, trebly and simple. the lyrics were nihilistic and self-loathing. With ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ as their anthem, Generation X began here.

Suddenly plaid shirts were haute couture, greasy straggly hair and bad skin was the look and no-one professed to care about anything any more. The music grew corporate as every major label wanted ‘their’ Seattle band and the drug issue in the scene got worse, with Kurt Cobain not the only tragic death brought on, directly or indirectly, by heroin addiction. In the end, it petered out with very few people escaping unscathed.

Manchester

So much to answer for, as The Smiths sung. And doesn’t it just? The home of the Buzzcocks, The Fall, Magazine, Joy Division, New Order, the Smiths and Oasis, among others, it’s most celebrated scene was the ’89 Summer of Love. Personified by the Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses, it was all about baggy flares, floppy fringes and groovetastic guitar music. Oh, and, and being off your tits on ecstasy.

It started organically and grew. Both bands had been dicking about unsuccessfully for years, but exploded as the Hacienda started filling up with goggle eyed loons on some new wonder drug from Ibiza. Seeing a bit of a unified scene, Tony Wilson commissioned two t-shirts, one bearing the slogan ‘Madchester’ and the other ‘I’m Nigel Madsell from the isle of Mad’ and asked Shaun Ryder which he preferred. Tragically, he plumped for the first.

Both bands imploded, leaving also-rans like the Charlatans and the Inspiral Carpets as the flag-bearers. the dealers moved into the clubs and it all turned nasty. Still, it was fun while it lasted.

Glasgow

Speaking of floppy hair and fringes, the early ’80’s saw some wan, 60’s obsessed boys twang guitars and wear checked shirts. The magnificent Postcard label signed them, and gave the world Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and Altered Images. Still, as the Loaf said, two out of three ain’t bad.

Magnificently geeky, they were simply a shambolic bunch of boys with talent for rickety DIT guitar pop that lay in the gutter while looking at the stars.

Montreal

So many great bands have come out of here recently, most obviously the Arcade Fire. Montreal is a very artist-friendly place, and in the communal atmosphere, several incestuous music and art projects have flowed. They’ve given us Feist, Stars and the Broken Social Scene. Still not peaked, either.

Minneapolis

A small, freezing cold city who in the mid-80’s have gave us the Replacements, the Minutemen and Húsker Dú. Since then, Craig Finn of the Hold Steady.

I am going to visit that place someday!

Well, that’s a wrap for this week. Remember if you are in Glasgow tonight to check out FRAM at Nice N Sleazys with ELM DJing. And apart from that, have a great weekend!

The Friday 5 – 5 Failed Follow-Up Bands

Good day to you all, my fine friends. We are all buzzing here after seeing one of Glasgow’s finest bands, the mighty Fram , perform a surprise acoustic gig in the city last night. And that has been good for my mood, as ELM has not been very well this week. I know. It’s a sin for me. The Wookie, however, is in tremendous spirits after whizzing about Alton Towers like a kid fuelled by blue smarties and Quosh. But we are both happy to have reached Friday in one piece.

This week, as I have been ill and whiny (I’m a bloke) I’ve been thinking about the nasty things in life. And, while whizzing through some old albums to stick on my iPod, I kinda got to thinking about what happens to those guys who leave a successful band and how they follow it up. To borrow from TV, some go on to do a ‘Frasier’, some go on to do a ‘Joey’. But why? Who can tell why someone is going to soar to previously unexplored levels, while some will plumb depths only Gary Barlow can attest to ?

As usual, in ELM-land, we focus on the fuck-ups, the ones who promised much but delivered little and, as it is Friday, we’ll point and laugh as we go.

Wings – Of course, how do you follow up being in the band who utterly revolutionised pop music single-handedly? You can’t, it is a hiding to nothing. But possibly recruiting your missus when she can’t really play, moving to a farm and wilfully writing even when you have nothing to say might not be the best idea. Not everything Wings did is bad; McCartney is simply too talented for that. But with no-one to rein him in, the ideas flowed and made it onto tape time after time. And as for the haircuts…oh, Lord.

The Seahorses – When the Stone Roses split up, it was pretty much common consent that John Squire was the talent. Ian Brown couldn’t (still can’t) sing and as good musicians as the rhythm section were, they didn’t contribute too much to the songwriting side of things. So great things were expected of Squire’s post-Roses project. Except…well, by then the guitarist (by his own admission) was fairly heavily into the old charlie and that does not do good things to a man’s sense of judgement. Witness the excruciating amount of guitar wank on ‘The Second Coming’. He saw a busker he liked in York and, emm, asked him to join the band. No, really. The chap, Chris Helme, had a pleasing enough dadrock voice but was nothing special. Which was fair enough though, because he was being asked to join a dadrock band that was nothing special.

With Squire’s guitar (what else) pushed to the front, the band released a couple of clunky singles (‘Love is the Law’ and ‘Blinded by the Sun’) which did ok and then a truly awful album called ‘Do It Yourself’ (apt) which sold a few copies in the post-Britpop hangover year of 1997. Never had ‘Elephant Stone’ seemed so far away. Sadly for Squire, people suddenly realised why the Roses weren’t in existence any more and blamed him and his band of busking nobodies. He’s never really recovered and, bar one poorly-received solo album, now concentrates on his painting.

Angels and Airwaves – You are Tom Delonge. You are the guitarist in chartpop-punks Blink 182 and your band are massive. Not big, not doing great, but stadium-filling in America. What’s more, your core audience is aged 12-30, meaning you have years and years of this if you stick to the plan. We are talking serious cash here people.

Sadly, you are visited by ‘God’ who tells you that you shouldn’t be wasting your time with this disposable pop crap (even though you are good at it.) You owe it to your audience – nay, the world – to ratchet it up a notch. To be the next U2. So you leave, and you form a band who…sound like Blink 182 sans tunes, but don’t have the humour or the self-awareness and instead concentrate on lyrics dealing with, like, issues? And you sell about 25 copies while your former bandmate Mark Hoppus figures, fuck it, forms a band called +44 who sound exactly like Blink 182 and coins it in.

And what can you do? You can’t go back to the band as that would involve telling God to go fuck himself. So you are stuck.

Blind Faith – I mean, it should have worked. No matter if you are a fan of Clapton and Winwood, you have to admit that both of them are talented. But again, perhaps you can blame the times; it was all about ‘freedom’ and doing what you wanted. What they wanted was a hotchpotch of blues and soul that never comfortably fitted into either and in the end just doesn’t hang together as a complete album. And that cover – the topless pre-teen girl holding a very phallic toy aeroplane…neither big nor clever, lads.

The Tears – Bernard Butler and Brett Anderson have a sense of timing and decision making which, had they been a couple, would have led to many an unwanted pregnancy. Suede were trailblazers for what would become Britpop when, wisely, the guitarist decide to sling his amps in the lift in 1994 meaning that the band failed to release a record in the Summer of 95, Britpop’s 67. The band fizzled out and then, in 2005 just as re-union tours were becoming so popular that Shed Fucking Seven can fill decent sized venues, decide to re-form…under a different name, meaning nobody knew and even less cared. The record was all right; stick the Suede name on it and it would have done a bundle. There is a bit of me that admires these guys though; their hapless dedication to fucking up each other’s career, even without knowing, is touching.

Lessons? Do a Stones. Do a Ramones. Even if you can’t stand the rest of the bastards in your band, stick with them. Times are hard y’know.

Manchester, So Much to Answer For

Due to a football match being held there tonight, Manchester has been very much in the headlines in Glasgow for the last few days. ELM is a footy-free zone, but it did get me thinking about some great Manchester bands. there can’t be many provincial cities in the world with the rich heritage of the place. So many wonderful bands, great performers and the Paris Angels. Well, you can’t have everything. Here are a few ELM favourites;

The Stone Roses – Fabulous, chiming baggy rock Gods. The Roses were, for a couple of years, the total package – insouciant, witty, confident. Most of all, what stands up even now is the music. The debut is still an astonishing piece of work, barely dated by almost twenty years. The stunningly generous singles and b-sides collection ‘Turns Into Stone’ was incredible too. Obviously, they burned themselves out in the Supernova days, and true potential soon became pure rock cliché as money and drugs tore them asunder. John Peel once famously said they reminded him of the Hollies, forgetting two things; namely that the Hollies were brilliant anyway, and half the shite he played in his career, well….let’s not cast the first stone here, Peely!

Download; I Am The Resurrection

Joy Division – As dark as a very dark night in the darkest bit of the darkest land. During a powerstrike. With a blindfold on. But they looked so ordinary. Just four working class lads in cheap trousers and cheaper shirts. It’s music which is timeless because it never fitted into any time. Ignoring the punk mantra of ‘fuck this, let’s start from scratch’ (because, let’s face it, scratch is a pretty impovrished place to leave from) they instead brilliantly re-designed what rock music could be. Two terrirfic and fearful albums, and so many great moments. Ian Curtis set the benchmark for suffering in rock, and anyone mining the soul for despair would always be judged fake against him, but that doesn’t change the fact it was a tragic waste of talent.

Download; Dead Souls

New Order – We’re not doing the usual trick of lumping one in with the other. Three members were the same, yes, but this is a totally different band. After a false start trying to be Joy Division mk II (‘Movement’) they settled into a hybrid of rock and dance which was revolutionary at the time. Their influence was huge, and some of their 80’s work can rightfully be labelled the most influential of the 80’s. They weren’t perfect – the lyrics are often moon/balloon/June – but their dynamism and songwriting nous covered that.

Download; Run

The Smiths – If New Order were the most influential band of the 80’s, The Smiths were the best. They were great, they were romantic, they were life-affirming. They were funny, too, in a way which fans got and detractors didn’t and just made it seem even more like we were in on something the world was missing. Marr’s guitar work still sounds unparalelled, like God had given him these astounding runs of chords and sequences. Add to that Morrissey – and forget what he has turned into, just remember how he was – and you had a band that you simply couldn’t replicate. One of those moments were everything aligned right in planet rock – as Marr once said ‘nobody could write music for Morrissey’s lyrics like me, and nobody could write lyrics for my music like Morrissey.’

Download; Panic

Oasis – Deserve to be in there. Hard for some people to understand now, but Oasis did shake British music when they first arrived. From years of Grunge, Greebo, self-harming and plaid, suddenly a band came along and said, actually, fuck that, let’s get drunk and have a party. And it felt so liberating. It was cool to wear nice clothes again! The first three years of Oasis career were incredible, Zep-esque monsters of big albums, bigger gigs, bigger albums, more tabloid controversy, drink, drugs and Patsy Kensit. When it was gone, it was gone, and Oasis are now a (still huge) loveable old national treasure. But what they did in the first few years, for people of my generation, was show them that you didn’t need access to the Met bar to have a good time, and kids all over the UK loved them for it. Niiiiice one.

Download; Supersonic

There are countless others – the Buzzcocks, The Fall, The Comsat Angels, The Happy Mondays, Interstella, John Cooper Clarke and more recently the Ting Tings and Elbow who we could have mentioned…but we could be here all day. Some place, some heritage. Now is it better than Liverpool’s? Well, I’m not getting into that!