Stone Roses In The Birthplace Of Psychedelia

We were prepared for anything last night when we shoe-horned our way

into the sold-out show at the Fillmore to see the Stone Roses' San

Francisco debut. After reading reviews of some of the earlier shows,

we were tempted to take the $100 offered us by desperate fans pining

to see their heroes--heroes who six years ago released an album that

transformed the landscape of British music, wedding throbbing dance

grooves onto soaring psychedelic riffs and inaugurating the first

soundtrack for the rave culture of Britain in the late 80's. But no,

we clutched the tickets and snaked out way to the front of the stage,

ready to brave the smoke machines, moshers, and fervent fans, who

would alternately flash lead singer Ian Brown Satan's two fingered

salute, or curl their thumbs and forefingers into a crude heart. We

can only guess that the latter gesture is a response to the Roses "I

Want To Be Adored," which they kicked off the set with. "Adored" was

transcendent, giving promise that this would be an encounter where

myth and music melded into a pure form. But alas, that was not to be.

This is a band that carries the burden of a huge potential, but not a

band that has ever toured. In fact when ATN spoke to guitarist John

Squire last winter, he said his fondest wish was that the band "would

be able to do a proper tour." Now they've had their chance, and they

haven't worked out all the kinks. Often dubbed the thinking man's

Oasis, they exhibit the same lack of stage presence, if not total

disregard of the audience. But that isn't the crux of it. They just

haven't jelled as a band (not to say that they won't). They did

exhibit some exquisite moments, when Squire's guitar took off for

planets uncharted, or when Brown did some Iggy grunts, and curled his

perfect pouting lips into a sneer, and spat out the haunting lyrics of

"Good Times." Squire played Keith Richard to Brown's wooden Mick

Jagger, never drifting more than four or five feet from Brown's

presence, as if girdled by a cord. Boyhood friends, their connection

is manifest on stage. Squire is an amazing stylist, grimacing and

grinning as he pulls off notes from his guitar like a young Jimmy

Page. Bass player, Mani was sporting a broken finger on his right

hand, but nevertheless kept the band solidly on course, and new

drummer Robbie Maddox contributed some flashy drumming, and stunning

harmonies during the band's acoustic break. "Waterfall" off the band's

first album was waterlogged, and plodded aimlessly towards its finish,

while Brown wandered in and out of tune, as he paced back and forth on

the stage, excluding his spell of remote sexuality, and chilly

charisma. "Love Spreads," was equally charmless, but these blips were

redeemed by the raw power of "Tightrope," and "Breaking Into Heaven."

The band played for just under seventy-five minutes, leaving fans

clamoring for more. Ian Brown returned to the stage momentarily to say

that with Mani's broken finger, they just weren't up to it, thus

restating that old showbiz axiom, always leave 'em wanting more.