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Last Updated: Monday, 26 July, 2004, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Brown stages Roses resurrection
By Tom Housden
BBC News Online

Former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown takes to the stage at a landscape garden in Surrey and treats the audience to a unique performance.

The first signs that tonight will be somewhat different to a typical Ian Brown gig come when regular guitarist Aziz Ibrahim concludes his acoustic support slot with the words "I won't be playing in the main band tonight".

And when Ian and an unfamiliar group of musicians take the stage and the bassline of the classic Stone Roses song I Wanna Be Adored spills out, 5,000 jaws drop in disbelief.

Ian Brown, Claremont Gardens, Esher, 2004 (image: Sharron Gibson)
King Monkey leads the crowd through some moves

Accompanied by the guitarist and bassist from Roses tribute act Fools Gold, Brown stuns a crowd expecting solo material by running through an hour of classics from his former band's back catalogue.

The 20 and 30-something audience plus kids, gathered in the bucolic setting of the 18th Century landscape garden at Claremont in Esher, deepest Surrey, are delirious with joy.

I Wanna Be Adored/ Sally Cinnamon/ Sugar Spun Sister/ Waterfall/ Mersey Paradise/ Made Of Stone/ She Bangs The Drums/ Where Angels Play/ Elizabeth My Dear/ I Am The Resurrection/ Fool's Gold/ My Star/ Dolphins Were Monkeys/ Golden Gaze/ F.E.A.R./ Time Is My Everything
Set highlights are a glorious, jangling Sally Cinnamon, the Roses' second single from 1987, and a powerful blast through She Bangs The Drums.

Brown then leads his hired hands through note-perfect renditions of Waterfall, Mersey Paradise and Where Angels Play, all staples of the Roses' classic 1989 live set, to an ecstatic response.

Since the group's ignominious demise eight years ago, Brown has often teased audiences with snippets of Roses songs, but has never played one in entirety save a one-off acoustic version of Sally Cinnamon in Japan in 1997.

However, gig-goers at the low-key warm-up in Dublin two nights earlier were in on the secret that tonight would not be a normal Ian Brown gig.

Often an aloof, surly figure onstage in recent years, tonight sees the singer relaxed and smiling.

Working the crowd at both sides of the stage, Brown spends the gig moonwalking, chatting to fans and trying on items of proffered clothing.

And while his singing voice - once memorably likened to "a man shouting into a bucket" - is at times a little wayward, Brown hits all the right notes on a night charged with emotion.

Inder Goldfinger and Ian Brown, Esher 2004 (image: Sharron Gibson)
He bangs the drums - with percussionist Inder Goldfinger

Being Ian Brown, events take a turn for the unpredictable when he prefaces Elizabeth My Dear, the Roses' anti-monarchist take on Scarborough Fair, by urging the crowd to be totally silent.

Predictably, this is a total failure.

"You've got no soul", chides Brown, with an air of tongue-in-cheek disappointment.

As things draw to a close, Brown introduces members of his regular band to perform five solo songs, including 2001 hit single F.E.A.R, and the new, trumpet-driven Time Is My Everything, a track reminiscent of 1960s band Love.

The song bodes well for his as yet untitled fourth solo album, due for release in September.

In true Roses tradition, there is no encore.

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