Monday, 5 December 2011


Look, I know the Stone Roses reunion still has embarrassing farce written all over it. But ... I'm increasingly tempted to say fuck the scepticism. And a wonderful thought dawns: what would happen if we actually started taking this seriously? Mightn't this have the potential to be part of a wider sea-change in 2012?

Surely we haven't completely lost the ability to look beyond irony and amusement and see something meaningful in a cultural event. Okay, the reunion isn't helped by the fact that it slots into the nostalgia circuit/retromania zeitgeist. But this shouldn't necessarily rule out its significance.

Try reading the following extracts from John Robb's account of last night's Brown-Squire Hillsborough benefit performance with something other than urbane cynicism:
As the band lurch from ‘Bankrobber’ to ‘Armageddon Time’ and Ian takes the vocal again that sense of camaraderie and of the real idea of ‘we’re all in it together’ extends from the stage to the audience...

The night winds on, Ian Brown is talking about the north and the power of Liverpool and Manchester being together and how the two cities can take on the world, some drunk in the bar tries to get Ian to slag off Oasis but he wont have any of it pointing out that ‘in Manchester we stick together’...  

I stand there and think about punk rock and the way that it must have been there in medieval times and before and how that we are all in our own little ways just carrying the flame from one generation to the next...

There’s something quite moving and important about a big Manchester United fan like Ian Brown making this statement of solidarity with the Liverpool fans over this call for justice but then Ian knows that this is a bigger story than of rival clubs. He knows that this is a story of the contempt the authorities have for people and that the demand for justice on this tour is universal and not just about one team. Like Mick Jones- who’s a big QPR fan- this is about the bigger picture, this is about the way that people died that horrible afternoon and that way that football and rock n roll integrate in our culture and resound so strongly with us. It’s about the way that the people’s music is the perfect match for the people’s game and it’s about that ancient cry of justice that is so part and parcel of all the great rock n rolls...

I'm increasingly getting the sense that, if this sort of thing manages to rise above the likely blandishments of the media coverage, the reunion might have the potential next summer to be a vociferous radical statement with genuinely populist resonance.

Why don't we see what happens when we start believing it will be?


Anonymous said...

I don't want to be an urbane cynic . . . BUT . . . the fact its a (Mick Jones led) Clash & Stone Roses thing means it nicely covers 2 - 3 decades of retro-revivalism.

Maybe you see the difference here because you really want it to be there? (which is nice, but y'know, I'm just saying)


Alex Niven said...

No need to apologise, I take the point.

But I suppose there's a wider issue about revivalism not always being a bad thing. Specifically, if a revival might lead to the resuscitation of a dormant tradition of British populist radicalism, then doesn't that obviate queries about its retro orientation?

Also, hasn't it been an extremely effective strategy of neo-liberalism to constantly rule out the possibility of the left drawing on extant traditions of resistance by completely anathematising the concept of the Old Left and demanding that we magic a brilliant new formula out of thin air, ad-exec-style?

Of course I realise that any wider sea-change will have to be accompanied by something at least relatively youthful and of-the-moment. But I think there are positive forms of tradition that can play a role too, positive examples from the recent past that can be improved on. The Stone Roses project always seemed like it contained myriad possibilities that were never quite carried through.