The Stone Roses & other life misunderestimations

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An acquaintance, a somewhat disgruntled worker, who was shown the door in her organization recently went on a tirade, listing off all the magnificent things she had supposedly brought to the company. All were fabrications or deluded personal perspectives on tasks she had ‘accomplished’. In a fit of fury, she insisted, “I have been misunderestimated.” This, erm, “word” perfectly encapsulates who and how she is. Trying too hard to be articulate and coming out sounding like a babbling moron in the process. Mis – under – estimated? If that were a word at all, how would it apply? That as a native English speaker, you don’t know how to use English (despite working in a communications department)? (For what it’s worth, “misunderestimate” is a classic Geo. W. Bushism.)

Thinking this morning about these vainglorious declarations of “misunderestimations”, I grant that I underestimated how glorious indeed seeing The Stone Roses live would be. I’m just returning home from the UK, where my brother and I have spent a few days seeing the Roses in Manchester. What could beat seeing them on their home turf and taking a look around the stomping grounds of some of our favorite musical artists? For nostalgia’s sake alone, it seemed like a good idea. In fact I counted on it being primarily nostalgic. I don’t think The Roses were ever known in the old days for being consistent and reliable, and I did not think that that 20 years between their breakup and today would have changed that.

But it did.

Now, I have never been the kind of person who enjoys standing in huge crowds of people enduring drunken idiots. I have never stood in an English crowd of idiots (their weird herd-hooligan mentality comes out even in this musical environment). I’m tempted to blame my advanced age, but then I remember with some displeasure that I felt this way when I was 20 as much as today. I simply hate crowds, especially stupid ones, and adding alcohol makes it 100 times worse. I also do not find the same things “fun” as other people. This would be an endurance exercise, not one of sheer pleasure.

We went to the venue very early – hours before it opened – to ensure that my brother could get the merchandise he wanted. Then we wandered off in the industrial estate area where the stadium is and found the most strangely placed, overly ornate Thai/Indian restaurant right in the middle of it (Vermilion). We went inside and were the only ones in the place, being showered with the dedicated attentions of an overeager French waiter who was so excited to interact and show us the revolving table in the adjacent room that he nearly knocked over some wine glasses in the process (“spin that wheel!”). It was surreal, making the whole thing memorable and laughable. Also, it was a good thing we ate a bunch of food because once we did actually get inside the stadium, we staked out our spot and didn’t really move again for seven hours. (Our feet have not thanked us since.)

The day started with The Buzzcocks, followed by The Coral, then Public Enemy and finally The Stone Roses. From the moment they went on, the crowd was rapt and all their previous shenanigans did not matter (e.g. throwing half-empty cups of beer and cider and shit into the air, which half soaked me at one point and really pissed me off). There is something truly uniting? Transformative? about sharing the same experience with a massive group of people who are all there, living and loving the same thing with equal intensity. No one was indifferent. Everyone knew all the words to every song and freaked out in unison. The intensity never abated. I have been to many concerts in my life but none with that sustained intensity and fervor and sheer engagement at every moment, particularly not at a concert of that size (smaller gigs in smaller venues for bands with a small but passionate following will seem a bit like that but on a much smaller scale). I guess scale is what I am talking about – I have never seen and experienced something like that, being right in the middle of it.

It was amazing and well worth all the hassles. And I guess my doubts about the Roses’ efficacy and staying power were misunderestimated. 🙂 Haha.

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