Ian Brown, Claremont Landscape Garden, Esher, Surrey

Say thank you with Roses
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The Independent Culture

It has been nearly 10 years since The Stone Roses, the great Mancunian band and pioneers of "baggy" culture, split up. Since then, Ian Brown, the Roses' charismatic front man, has never played a song from the band's illustrious back-catalogue live. Which goes some way to explaining the wide-eyed incredulity that sweeps through the audience when that familiar, rumbling bass-line of the Roses classic, "I Wanna Be Adored", comes rolling out of the speakers. Is it a recording, a tease, or some form of collective dream?

It has been nearly 10 years since The Stone Roses, the great Mancunian band and pioneers of "baggy" culture, split up. Since then, Ian Brown, the Roses' charismatic front man, has never played a song from the band's illustrious back-catalogue live. Which goes some way to explaining the wide-eyed incredulity that sweeps through the audience when that familiar, rumbling bass-line of the Roses classic, "I Wanna Be Adored", comes rolling out of the speakers. Is it a recording, a tease, or some form of collective dream?

Brown quickly dispels such anxieties by launching into the song's first line, "I don't have to sell my soul", in his trademark gruff bellow. The audience erupts. At the end of the song, Brown, with his mop of unruly hair and hollow cheeks, nonchalantly looks into the crowd. "Any requests?" he says.

As the night develops, Brown will sing all of the songs his fans request, in what is - barring a reunion of the band - the closest approximation to a Stone Roses greatest-hits concert there is likely to be. The mutual appreciation between Brown and his audience is easy to see - each applauding the other, hands above head after every song.

After a jangling "Sally Cinnamon", there was a brief pause as the audience pinched themselves, and Brown, looking as lean and athletic as ever, took in his impressive surroundings. The gig was at Claremont Landscape Garden, a National Trust park in Surrey, and the stage was set in front of a small lake, in a large turf amphitheatre with superb acoustics. "We're the country set now, you know," said Brown, and, sensing the air of disbelief: "You weren't expecting to hear these songs, were you?"

And then, more of the Roses oeuvre, sounding fresh and clear as it peals out - "Sugar Spun Sister" followed by "She's a Waterfall", both eliciting a huge response from the crowd. There was no chitchat between songs - just an enthusiastic spit from Brown to clear his throat, and then the opening chords of another classic song met by another roar of approval. Brown's approach to stagecraft has always been based on the less-is-more approach. During the songs, he usually just marches up and down on the spot, occasionally raising a fist, but even in these little gestures it's easy to see how influential he has been to those that followed him. Liam Gallagher's menacing stage presence, for instance, is an imitation of Brown's - he has also borrowed Brown's devotion to the tambourine. Even Brown's simian prowling, which led to him being nicknamed King Monkey, has become a staple feature of front men in aspiring indie bands.

There's an acoustic interlude in the form of "Elizabeth My Dear", before the band play two of the Roses' more formidable tracks in a row. First, "I am the Resurrection" in its eight-minute entirety, which finds Brown's voice, often disparaged, in great shape. Then the anthemic "Fools Gold", its noodling bassline and skittering beat complementing Brown's softer vocal delivery.

"No more Roses stuff," he announces after the protracted jam at the end of "Fools Gold", and he hugs his guitarists and then ushers them off stage, replacing them with a burly DJ. He plays a track from each of his post-Roses albums: "My Star" from Unfinished Monkey Business; "Golden Gaze", with its hammering piano riff, from Golden Greats; and "FEAR" from Music from the Spheres, which finds him in a pastoral mode well suited to the setting: "Fallen empires are running/ Find earth and reap," he sings. And then, donning his coat and saluting his crowd, he's off, King Monkey of all he surveys.

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