Pop Luke Clancy THE STONE ROSES Pirc U Chaoimh, Cork

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Indy Lifestyle Online
After a rash of courtroom scuffles, a plague of feeble bones and a brief tour of Scandinavia, the Stone Roses finally loped onto the stage of Pirc U Chaoimh, Cork, last Sunday, to play their first gig in these islands for more than half a decade.

Lead singer Ian Brown has never made much effort to hide his messianic pretensions. Roses tunes, such as "I Am the Resurrection", left few doubts about the genre of his delusion; but it remains fun to ponder whether Brown thinks he is the second coming of Jim Morrison or Jesus Christ, or perhaps even Jesus reincarnated as Jim. In either case, a certain family resemblance is as striking as it is calculated.

The band opened with Brown's paean to his humble aspirations, "I Wanna Be Adored". If Ian does want to be adored, he would want to learn to hit the notes with a little more precision, or are these strange sounds the "slightly atonal eastern effects" that so impressed one American critic?

"She Bangs the Drum" and "Waterfall" leave his voice sounding equally vulnerable, skipping around the note painfully. Painfully, that is, until one remembers that singing in key is hardly what the Stone Roses are about. They are about coy, middle-distance stares, faintly religious eroticism and sprightly guitar sounds. As the band's set had good measures of all three, there ought to have been little room for complaint.

When John Squire wrestled his guitar into action, Brown's plaintive assault on the melody finally received the heavy covering fire under which it flourishes. By the time the band were halfway through "Breaking Into Heaven", everything was all right again.

Squire's guitar rubs up against Brown's tantalising, surreal lyrics like an old tabby, before transforming suddenly into a wah-wah leopard. Given his head - and his plectrum - Squire wraps his mates in razor-tipped blues guitar, as though his one desire is to be the star turn at an E-Monsters of Rock festival. The reaction of the crowd was predictably ecstatic. Hardly a hypercritical group at the best of times, the XXXL T-shirt and Vittel water-bottle crew liked the way things were turning, as Squire embarked on the-wild-solo-that-just-might-never-end.

It does though, and Brown slips in for an acoustic mini-set, including "Elizabeth My Dear", a "Scarborough Fair"-based songlet that never amounted to 20 seconds well spent, but now sounds simply deranged. Happily, Squire soon throws up another Led Zeppelin-like electric smokescreen.

Whatever the Stone Roses have been doing for the past five years it was not learning how to end a show. Indeed, the confused, soggy finale to this second coming will have left few breathlessly awaiting a third.

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