As Ian Brown wandered out on to the stage, looking like a posturing male chimp, he didn't look like a man who was worried about whether he was going to be able to sing.

He looked, as you'd expect the lippy Stone Roses frontman to be, defiant and cocky. But really, whether Brown's notoriously fickle vocal cords were going to perform was what most of the Roses' fans at an almost sold-out Vector Arena were waiting to find out.

And as he sang the opening lines to I Wanna Be Adored - the first song off their classic self-titled debut album - it was clear, he can sing. Hallelujah. So let's party like it's 1989 at a rave at Manchester's famously hedonistic Hacienda night club.

The Stone Roses - who were leaders of the Manchester music scene in the late 80s and early 90s before a messy and bitter break up in 1996 - reformed in 2011 and this was their first time to New Zealand. And they delivered a thrillingly nostalgic, and sometimes shambolic, 90-minute set.


After a fine start, with the lively and vocal crowd helping Brown out by hollering along to the chorus of I Wanna Be Adored, Mersey Paradise (a B-side to single She Bangs the Drums) was worryingly trashy and murky, before it took back off with early single Sally Cinnamon.

There were a few other shaky moments, like on Shoot You Down when Brown struggled to find his voice on the gentler, more subtle song. But next up, and coming midway through the set, was the band's great, psychedelic dance rock anthem Fools Gold - and from there they just got better and better.

Though it clocked in at 10 minutes-plus, Fools Gold was not nearly long enough, and 15 or even 20 minutes would have been far better.

But the version they did was a far different beast from the original as it morphed from a smouldering and trippy groove into a searing and noisy jam with guitarist John Squire's mix of psychedelic squalls and frilly flourishes, and bass player Mani and hard-hitting funky drummer Reni leading the charge.

After two false starts (with Brown giving poor old Mani a telling off), Waterfall was the most beautiful song of the night with its gorgeous spiraling waves of sound, and Don't Stop (basically Waterfall backwards) was masterful.

But the biggest and loudest sing-a-longs were saved for Made of Stone, escalating epic This Is One, where the band really started to kick in together, and a suitably sprawling and beautifully chaotic extended version of I Am the Resurrection to end.

The band looked downright chuffed to be here as they lined up on the stage taking a bow, and ending with a group hug (although Mani got left out. Poor Mani).

"Sorry we took 20 years to get here," offered the bass player before walking off.
And it was all over a bit too quickly really, a bit like Fools Gold, and you were left wanting more, like Elephant Stone for example.


Photo courtesy of UnderTheRadar, click here for photo gallery.

-NZ Herald