The chanting started early: “Ian Brown, Ian Brown, Ian Brown! IAN BROWN! I-AANNN BROO-WWW-NN!!!”.
Early enough even to drown out at least part of the Scratch Perverts set. Who were pretty hard done by to tell the truth, forced to embark on the thankless task of warming the crowd up from a small hovel by the side of the stage. At least, thats where we think they were. Quite frankly they could have been sat in a Carling branded bunker just north of Minsk and the majority of the crowd would have struggled to tell.
Minus a visual presence, it was a struggle to tell which bits of the complex scratching and mixing routine were being done live, and which bits were merely on record. Bad Carling! Treat your support artists with more respect in future! Of course the Perverts didn’t endear themselves by going on way after their job had been done, continuing to play to growing antipathy and with an increasing volume of those football-terrace style shouts ringing out.
Answering the call of his people, Manchester’s very own version of Dorian Gray ambled on at about 12:30am dressed in about eight layers of messianically bright white, to cover a set that touched the ‘greatest-hit’ like bases you might expect.
And yes, that did include I Am The Resurrections, and boy, was it was good. Eight minutes of arms-aloft crowd participation, sung back at him word for word and ending exactly how it should, with a full blooded instrumental climax. Anything else vaguely Roses related (Waterfall and She Bangs The Drum to be exact) resorted in the same kind of intensified reaction: the joyous uniting abandon of those who didn’t ever think they’d get to see these songs done live and now can’t quite believe that they are, and that generally leads to mass outbreaks of hugging, occasional crying and a general sense of “I love you, yourrr mybeshtest maaate”. Although that might have been the beer.
Vocally he wasn’t at his sharpest, the shuffling whisper giving way to a strained bellow on too many occasions, particularly on the, errrm, “interesting” (Brave? Foolhardy?) covers of Redemption Song and Three Little Birds, but no one really seemed to care. But when you can do things like bleed out Resurrection and go straight into F.E.A.R’s emphatic string beds, no one really should.
Golden Gaze was as good as ever, a star-gazing, trip-hop masterpiece, the underrated Keep What Ya Got was dark, dubby and dense, and the trumpet provided dashes of mariachi brass on Time Is My Everything added a dusty flavour to proceedings. Although that might have been the beer too.
As endearing and as enigmatic as ever, Brown is a true rock-star, and a true legend. You could ask for better beer, and you could probably have asked for a slightly better performance, but you couldn’t have asked for a better host to take Carling Live 24 into the early hours of the morning.