The Stone Roses played Spike Island on this day in 1990… [May 1990]
Do you remember what you were doing on Sunday 27 May 1990? Chances are it wasn’t anywhere near the experience of some 28,000 loved-up punters that descended on an island near Widnes, for a concert that will go down in rock history.
The Stone Roses’ played Spike Island at the tail-end of more than a year of near non-stop touring (even taking in Japan); a period which saw the release of the group’s seminal debut album and established them as the premier custodians of the nascent indie-dance crossover sound.
The venue, a man-made isle in the Mersey estuary, had never held a concert before – it was reportedly chosen by Roses manager Gareth Evans – and the unlikeliness of the location was compounded by organisational challenges.
“Our management really fucked up,” bassist Mani told NME in 2010. “There were security guards taking booze off people, there was a lot of overcharging for food and drink, and there wasn’t enough facilities onsite. There were a lot of aspects of Spike Island that were really badly thought out, but none of that is the band’s job.”
Plus, as the gig continued, there were even fears that the combination of windy conditions and a high spring tide could even lead to the island being flooded mid-concert, something that mercifully never happened.
Support acts for the day were varied – a Zimbabwean drum group and reggae artist Gary Clail shared the lineup with Paul Oakenfold, Frankie Bones and others – before the Roses took to the stage at 9pm… when the place went off, despite questionable sound quality.
“Even though the sound was blowing all over the place, it was impossible not to be moved by it,” author Jon Ronson told NME.
“When Brown came out brandishing an inflatable globe [during the show], it was everything it was supposed to be – the world in their hands. When you saw it, you absolutely felt like you were a part of something, at the centre of that place and time.”
The band would play three more gigs – in Finland, Northern Ireland and Glasgow – before retiring to the studio to record their second album, a process which would end up fragmenting the group.
But for one windy day in May 1990, anything seemed possible.
The Stone Roses at Spike Island, 27 May 1990 – Setlist
I Wanna Be Adored
She Bangs The Drums
Shoot You Down
(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
Where Angels Play
Made Of Stone
Elizabeth My Dear
I Am The Resurrection