Thursday 23 June 2016

two-in-one thursday: the stone roses + tegan and sara

because i am the worst procrastinator known to man, i decided to combine my reviews of both the stone roses, who i saw last friday, and tegan and sara, who i saw last night, into one post. 

the stone roses

in the words of the band themselves, this was the one i'd waited for. ever since i first heard this is the one (my favourite stone roses track, in case you couldn't already tell) on a compilation CD my mum picked up on a whim, there was something about this band i just couldn't get enough of. when i watched the 2013 documentary made of stone, about their return to the music scene, i couldn't help feel envious of everyone who managed to acquire a ticket to both the free gig they put on in warrington in 2012 and the subsequent gigs at heaton park. so when they announced a series of four live dates this summer at the ethiad stadium, i couldn't miss out for a second time.

needless to say, my expectations were sky high, much like the upper-tier seats we found ourselves in. the sun most certainly didn't have his hat on and showed no signs of coming out to play when we left for the gig, but hoping to coax it out with some good old fashioned optimism (not my strongest suit, but i gave it a go all the same), i braved the elements and wore shorts. typically, the weather didn't improve, but once the show kicked in, things soon heated up. as cliche as it may sound, the atmosphere really was electric, even from where we stood right at the top of the arena. the band were like minuscule lego men, but the power of their instruments carried all the way up to the cheap seats (though i'd hardly call £49 a ticket cheap). 

a girl who worked in my dad's local pub had been to see the band on the wednesday, the first of four gigs, and told him they had been a disappointment and that much of the arena's seats remained empty, so i did enter the arena with some degree of scepticism. but all of her points were quickly proved wrong as the stadium swelled to (almost) full capacity. when we arrived, manchester legends the buzzcocks had already taken to the stage, but we managed to get inside just in time to hear them sing my favourite songs, what do i get and ever fallen in love. the stadium was pretty empty at this point, and i wondered if this girl was going to be proved right, but by the time the roses came on around 9pm, there was a sea of people standing below us on the beer-soaked concrete. 

it's no secret that the band are excellent musicians, and even after 33 (!!) years, they sound as good as ever, so i didn't object to the fact that they played a lot of instrumental numbers, but my favourite moments were when their most well known (and loved) tracks went from being part of my spotify playlists to a tangible live experience, with everyone around us on their feet and word perfect. 

they opened their set with i wanna be adored, and i'll never forget how it felt to finally hear those opening chords after so many years of wanting and waiting. other highlights included elephant stone, new track all for one, waterfall and she bangs the drums (belting the lyric the past is yours but the future's mine was one of the most exhilarating moments). by this time it was getting near to the end of the set and they still hadn't played this is the one, and i started to panic that i might never hear the one song that made me fall in love with them in the first place. but lo and behold, it was their second to last song and the one that stuck with me the most. it was a moment of triumph; i'd stuck it out, playing it over and over on my ipod, watching on as other people saw them live, and now it was my turn. this was my spike island, and i'm sure a lot of people who were too young to appreciate their music the first time round felt the same way. 

the set ended with i am the resurrection, and though i'm not one for biblical imagery, it was like seeing the band rise up from the ashes, all their past mistakes forgotten, as they proved to the world that they can sell out four nights at one of the country's biggest stadiums and still captivate the minds of millions, whether 13 or 33, there was a place for everyone that night and i defy anybody to say that they've lost "it", whatever the hell "it" is. 

tegan and sara

again, i entered the venue for last night's gig, the surprisingly small koko, with a mild degree of scepticism. fans have been divided by the new, altogether more pop sound (the duo have done away with the electric guitars altogether) of tegan and sara, and comments on some of their live performances of TV appearances promoting their latest release were less than favourable. this divide was clear last night, as some people around me knew every word to the older songs, whereas the majority were unfamiliar to me. even so, i loved every single track i heard, especially as they gave old favourites like living room a new twist (or as they called it, "plastic surgery"). 

the support was also excllent, a floppy-haired gentleman who goes by the moniker oscar; a little bit of brian ferry, a hint of gary numan and a dash of every single scuzzy underground indie band you've ever heard just about sums his sound up. his tracks stay and sometimes were my particular favourites and have been on repeat ever since i got back. 

they opened the set with two acoustic numbers: call it off and (one of my favourites) now i'm all messed up. i wasn't familiar with the first song, but everyone else in the room seemed to be, and it was enough just to stand and be carried through the song on the power of their words alone. far less people joined in for now i'm all messed up, and i was a little self-conscious of singing along at first, but my inhibitions soon fell away and i belted it out regardless of everyone around me. 

obviously, i am one hundred percent pro-pop, so heartthrob and now love you to death have a special place in my heart, despite the painful memories that come attached to certain songs from their 2013 release. but singing those lyrics out loud, in a room full of people i'd never met and would (most likely) never meet again, was the most cathartic release i could possibly think of. i feel at peace with these songs now, as any left over feelings from when i first heard them were exorcised through the four walls of the venue. highlights for me included, u-turn, stop desire, boyfriend, closer, goodbye goodbye and drove me wild, but as i said before, every single song was excellent, a rarity at most gigs i attend. 

but perhaps my favourite bit of the whole show (aside from the moment they walked on stage and i could have sworn that tegan and i made eye contact) (just let me have this fantasy okay) was the on-stage banter between the twins. tegan took the lead when it came to talking to the crowd, but sara's contributions were also excellent. topics ranged from what they think about while playing songs (tegan: organising her wardrobe (or "closet" if you're from across the pond)) to what they'd do for a million dollars (sara: sleep with an old guy who just happened to be a millionaire). if music suddenly stops working out for them, they should certainly look into a career as comedians; i for one would pay ridiculous amounts just to listen to them talk for two hours. 

and as if they couldn't be any more amazing, they also finished half an hour early (though it certainly didn't feel like it, as they packed 17 songs into their set) so i was able to get the last train home. 

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