The Stone Roses at Spike Island - A first hand account
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The Stone Roses at Spike Island - A first hand account

Sun 21 Feb 2016 at 14:27 by Distant Echo in blog


We recently took stock of the new 80s Casuals Spike Island t-shirt

We're huge Stone Roses fans in the office but sadly we weren't quite old enough to be there at the seminal Roses' gig at Spike Island in Widnes.

We caught up with our pal Anthony Teasdale, editor of Umbrella Magazine, who was there and he gave us this very honest run down of how the day panned out in 1990. 

What memories have you got from the day?

There was a huge buzz around the north-west and beyond about the gig – well certainly among those young people who cared about music or fashion. Compared to say, Oasis at Knebworth the numbers are insignificant.  But culturally it remains a Big Deal.

The day itself. We came from Liverpool Central to Widnes – oh, the glamour of it all – hung about outside for a bit then went in. We had to wait ages for the band to come on. I liked house music enormously, more than I did indie, but it did go on far too long.

When the Roses came on it was obviously exciting, but the sound wasn't great and it left me a little cold. Even then you were aware that the best gig had been Blackpool the year before and we'd missed out.

You say there was a buzz in the north-west at the time but was it all predominately Mancunians or did the Stone Roses truly have a wider appeal at that time?

They had national appeal among indie kids and some – but not all – ravers.

At the time the tribes were quite separate. The ravers were cooler and more likely to come from a "football" background, while rave girls were more townie than the mostly-student indie kids. No matter what you've read, the Roses were not played at the Hacienda (though they played there) or Quadrant Park.

Obviously, the crowd was mostly north-west based – there was a sea of wools there – but people came from all over, too. One thing to note: there weren't many scousers at Spike Island. Liverpool can be conservative and doesn't trust anything that didn't start there: acid house and Madchester were routinely mocked by scallies, who still dressed in 1987-style clobber (jeans with patches on, sweatshirts).

Clothes-wise, most people were in gigantic flares and Joe Bloggs long-T-shirts, apart from about 300 Mancs who turned up in old school Adidas (replacing Troop and British Knights basketball boots) and white jeans with cropped hair.

This made everyone else examine their own gear and realise just how shit they looked. By the World Cup a month later, flares had disappeared without a trace, like Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects

Did it feel like you were witnessing a significant moment in indie-music-history at the time?

Yes. We were the first pop generation to have grown up watching TV programmes about pop culture, so knew we'd take our place in that ongoing story. Our clothes were very much influenced by the late 60s, and people were listening to The Doors and Pink Floyd in post-club pot-smoking sessions. Man.

How did it compare to Heaton Park?

Musically, Heaton Park was better – despite Ian's voice. But the crowd at Heaton Park was full of the sort of people you were trying to get away from in the late 80s. The Madchester/rave culture was never about being a lad. It was about dancing to house music from Chicago, wearing retro Italian football tops and posing in Dry Bar, and later, Manto's. Those piss-throwing cavemen at Heaton Park/Finsbury Park wouldn't have got near those places.

Any excitement for the Stones Roses' 2016 summer gigs?

Not the same level as HP, no. But they're still an incredible band who came up with the greatest debut album of the 1980s.

You can buy Umbrella Magazine over on our other site Steeple Pine.