Heaton Park vs Spike Island

So, after 44 years without talking to each other, Warrington and Sale’s The Stone Roses finally got it together at Heaton Park last week and put on a performance worthy of the hype. With a catalogue of undeniably boss tunes it should have been impossible for the band to mess up, but anyone who saw them between ’89-’91 will tell you that a good Roses performance was as rare as a fella without a moustache in Salford in 1983. Thankfully, they delivered.

The great mega gig of Madchester (and I’m using the term because I was there and I’m allowed) was of course, Spike Island, the ‘Woodstock of Baggy’, that saw 30,000 (real and pretend) Mancs decamp to a wildlife reserve in Widnes for the most culturally significant gig of 1990.

The concert has passed into legend as one of those events you had to be at, but with refreshing un-babyboomer truthfulness, anyone who was there will tell you how disappointing it was. Though not as disappointing as not going.

So, how do the two compare?

Spike Island: Gigantic flares and Joe Bloggs long-T-shirts, apart from about 300 Mancs who turned up in old school Adidas 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

Heaton Park: A mix of Dad’s-gone-casual chic or Oi Polloi/Weavers Door clobber for the north- westerners. Flares, Reni hats and blag Roses T-shirts for the youthful Scots and Irish contingents, making sure they weren’t going to miss out on looking stupid this time around. Even though most of them weren't born in 1990

Spike Island: Pot, everywhere. Ecstasy and trips for the more experienced attendees. Nothing whatsoever for me due to mingebag, sixth-former’s budget

Heaton Park: Cocaine, five quid bottles of Fosters, stuff you give the kids to quiten them down of an evening, Buckfast

The crowd
Spike Island: 60/40 men to women. Most of them under the age of 21, many driving vans with Squire-influenced messy paint jobs – Bonehead from Oasis’s being one particularly good example

Heaton Park: 95/5 men to women. Even the ladies looked like blokes, though they refrained from the pre-concert entertainment of piss-throwing. You missed out, girls

The sound
Spike Island: Like listening to someone playing The Stone Roses album in a windtunnel

Heaton Park:  Like listening to The Stone Roses album through a really loud, but really small, telly

What it felt like…
Spike Island: The end of something

Heaton Park: The end of something – but in a good way


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