The way that music is purchased, listened to and generally appreciated is changing. With the rise in music files for portable devices and space constraints (they take up much less room than CD’s let alone Vinyl), the music industry is continually looking at ways to market the medium. Artists are changing the way in which they reach and integrate with their fans- the use of social media being an obvious example, but also sites like bandcamp, which has taken up the (broken) mantle of myspace, and allows a simpler format, which is also a platform for bands to give away free tracks as a way to reach out to new and existing music fans.
That said, how I spent an hour or so last night takes all this to another (bizarre) level.
Around about 4.00 yesterday afternoon, a message went up on Facebook that The Stone Roses would be holding a free warm up concert at the 1500 capacity Parr Hall in Warrington that evening. The charity HUGS (Helping Uganda Schools) would be collecting donations at the venue. Wristbands would be the ‘tickets’, and to get one, fans needed to take a CD sleeve, Record cover, official band T-Shirt or Heaton Park ticket to prove fan status (the local HMV sold out of ‘Roses stock), and within an hour the event had distributed all the wristbands. Film maker Shane Meadows (This Is England, Dead Man’s Shoes, Once Upon A Tim In The Midlands, etc) would also be filming the show for the documentary of the band that he is making throughout the summer.
John Robb from Louder Than War, announced he would be reporting from the concert via Twitter on the #The StoneRoses hash tag- and this was how I would be following the events of the evening.
A little sad, possibly, but this was a big event- the band in this original line up hadn’t played together for 22 years, and 16 years ago at the bands final gig- the poorly received Reading Festival show, only Ian Brown and Mani were present, John Squire had left after the 1995 tour and Reni was long gone. I am going to see them in a little over a month, so this had me even more excited- and indeed was hoping that all the rumours about them being back on form were correct.
So, I sat in my bedroom, in front of my computer, and followed the hashtag.
There was much anticipation, and people were tweeting that they were either lucky to get a ticket or unlucky not to live in Warrington, there was a ‘no picture’ policy, so a few blurry, clandestine photos leaked out- the most revealing showing Reni’s double bass drums, with obligatory ‘Lemon’ logo- this seemed to make the event even more ‘real’.
A 9.30 start was announced, a shiny new Gretsch was soundchecked, the lights went down, and the event commenced…
But how to follow with a bit more involvement than just re-creating those halcyon 80’s days following football matches on ceefax?
Step up another ubiquitous piece of software that so defines our age- Spotify.
As the tracks were announced, I selected the studio versions via Spotify, and I was there (sort of, well ok, it’s so far removed from the live experience, that it all felt a little silly.) The added comments around song segues, audience participation- John Robb mentioning that he’s never heard a bassline so drowned out be audiences singing- Ian Brown doing his ‘thing’ during ‘Waterfall’ (the crowd turning into a thousand Bez’s as one, apparently), just added to the experience- and it was also apparent that there were plenty like me getting nervous before and then excited during and hanging on to every tweet that left the Venue.
The hour set was mostly drawn from the first album, with a few b-sides thrown in for good measure- I am very happy with the inclusion of ‘Where Angels Play’, such a beautiful track- ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Love Spreads’ the only tracks from ‘Second Coming’, there was also no ‘Fools Gold’ or the anticipated set closer ‘I Am The Resurrection’, and none of the new tracks were played.
All these would no doubt be unleashed for the Tour proper.
The general reports suggest that the band are indeed, on song.