The Stone Roses

By Mike O'Connor

Artist:  The Stone Roses

Date / Venue:  Tuesday 26th February, Vector Arena, Auckland

Fans of the Stone Roses are a devoted bunch. As well as patiently waiting 17 years for a reunion of the iconic Manchester band, I was told before last night's gig at Auckland's Vector Arena about one fan who had travelled from New Zealand and went to 2 of the 3 gigs they played at Heaton Park in Manchester in 2011, but was still left heartbroken after failing to get a ticket for the final night.

So it was no surprise to see the Vector close to capacity for the one-off gig. After a raw hip hop and D'n'B DJ set by ex-pat Kiwi Zane Lowe, who tried desperately to get a pretty non-plussed crowd to warm-up, King Monkey and Co hit the stage to a deafening applause and immediately began belting out I Wanna Be Adored. The crowd's singing was so loud and the sound at Vector so muddy that Ian Brown could have been lip-syncing Ave Maria behind the microphone for all we knew - not that anyone seemed to mind.

However he'd clearly been getting worked up, as he soon ditched his b-boy jacket to reveal a rather fetching NZ fern t-shirt. Brown's cockiness has always been quite endearing, and as he did his best dance-like-your-dad impression it wasn't hard to feel thankful that the band had patched up their well-documented differences.

There were moments where you could sense things got a bit muddled, like on second track Mersey Paradise, and you could almost hear the crowd's collective intake of breath when Brown started to give bassist Mani some stick and called for two restarts of Waterfall.

But by the time they played Fools Gold, they had obviously relaxed a touch with John Squire's guitar work as brilliant as ever, effortlessly turning the track into a psychedelic jam that lasted nearly 15 minutes.  And with Reni's frenetic drumming spot-on, Browns voice grew stronger as the evening progressed.

Made of Stone, This Is The One and She Bangs The Drums soon followed, with the crowd urging the band on. By the time they got to I Am The Resurrection, which had the crowd singing like they were a congregation at a Southern Baptist church, they were rocking away like it was the Hacienda circa 1989.

A few hugs, a quick thank you for waiting and they were gone, with no encore, and very little ceremony. Who knows how long the reunion will last, but I for one, am glad they're back.