"It's not where you're from," Ian Brown was famously quoted as saying more than a decade ago, "it's where you're at." At the time, it felt like the iconic young lead singer of The Stones Roses was giving the otherwise hedonistic Madchester scene some kind of form and purpose, but nowadays such a statement cuts both ways.
To those who are not "at" the same place as Brown, not attuned to the same spiritual wavelength that growing up with his music might bring, a gig like this could be a hard sell. His voice is not the most precise of instruments. And for someone whose old band set such precedents in British indie-dance music, Brown's recent output is more reflective and mid-paced than new inductees might have bargained for.
Yet it's not just in recognition of The Roses' enduring appeal that Brown has repeatedly been bestowed with lifetime achievement gongs. He remains a true original, and a man of engaging opinions whose music still bursts with invention today.
Although he began the gig with "Sister Rose" from his latest solo album The World is Yours, this was a full greatest hits set, and the amount of notable material Brown has amassed over a five-album, one-hits compilation solo career deserves recognition.
The main body of his set, for example, comprised the Motown-influenced arrangement of "Destiny or Circumstance", the Latin-infused "Lovebug", and the trumpet fanfare of "Time is My Everything". Brown's fight announcer-style "let's get ready to rumble" introduced the sinister electronic crunch of "Golden Gaze", while "Keep What Ya Got" and "My Star" returned to more familiar indie-grooving territory.
Sadly, two more tracks from The World is Yours didn't include the latest single and anti-Iraq War protest song "Illegal Attacks", but a chiming, set-closing version of The Roses' "I Am the Resurrection" topped off the robust theme of empowerment that runs through Brown's music and lyrics.
Further Roses songs ("I Wanna Be Adored" and "Fool's Gold") appeared alongside his most popular solo track "FEAR" during two vigorously received encores, and the singer lingered just long enough to request applause for the holy trinity of band, the crowd themselves, and – somewhat immodestly – himself. For contributing an evolving and inspiring catalogue of music that's almost more than the sum of its parts, though, he deserves it.
Touring to 26 October (www.ianbrown.co.uk)Reuse content