The Stone Roses announce a big gig in a place no one's heard of, which makes it even more intriguing. Especially as 6 months previously they were playing tiny clubs in Reading and Walsall. Now I'm obsessed with the band. They were the most exciting band since The Jam. The Smiths were great, but The Roses spoke my language and looked sharp, cool. Morrissey is a lyrical genius but I like getting up in the morning, not lying about all fucking day waiting to die or get run over. Know what I mean
Through my enthusiasm and Fools Gold reaching the dizzy heights of the top ten and TOTP, all my mates are now on it as the cultural revolution, that is Acid House bringing us all into one large gathering of old tribes for a big day out. A phone call is made to a mate and before you know it we're on a trip to Manchester to buy a cotchel of tickets for Spike Island. We drag my mate Loz along and we're bouncing up the M6 with pound signs in our eyes and a coach to fill. We get to Manchester, park up and get in Piccadilly Records to buy. Unfortunately it's 4 per person so we get the first 12, and then go back in each others coats to avoid detection but some Manc bod in one of those silly On The Eighth Day God Invented Manchester long sleeved tops is grassing us to the staff.
After the cliché is given daggers we decide to go to a pub and work out how to get the remaining tickets. After getting a beer down we start talking to this old piss head who we bribe for the price of a pint to get another 4 tickets. Feeling a bit sweaty giving this old boy 60 notes and wondering if he's gonna do one down the road he comes back in as I'm about to have one, briefs in hand and a cackle as we have a pint of Boddingtons waiting for him. He downs it, cackles again and says "give us another 60 quid and I'll get George over there to do it as well"
He points to this bloke who looks like a bath would kill him, as his clobber looks matted on. This fella says "If you buy me and George a couple of pints each he'll get the remaining tickets lad" George is duly despatched with the cash and staggers into Piccadilly. Fuck knows what the staff must have thought as this tramp is dribbling on the counter asking for Stone Roses tickets. George comes back, doesn't break his blank expression and mutters "Come on you cockney cunts where's my pints?" as he puts the tickets on the table. 4 pints are put in front of George and mystery man and we're out of there laughing our bollocks off as we pull 28 tickets out of what was the centre of the youth cultural universe at that point in time.
I already had 8 tickets coming by post and we can sell the rest of the coach as seats only. At first it sold slowly, but with each week word soon got out and we were down to 15 tickets. I then put an ad in the NME classifieds and that was it, within a week they'd gone. And the phone didn't stop until the day of the gig, could have done three coaches.
Right, anyone who was on that coach knew I was a bit nervous as this was new territory for me and I had visions of the coach not turning up or breaking down as my mate who had booked it had got the cheapest firm in West London to run it. As it happened it was worse, Harry the coach driver picked us up on time from The Swan; unfortunately he was pissed from the night before. I got hold of him and told him to stay out of sight till everyone was on the coach and forced the flask of coffee down that he had.
We're away and after a brief introduction on the coach microphone and getting the usual "Shut up, you wanker" I settle down as we head out up to the M1. Then I think fuck it, bang a clear capsule and I'm away with the fairies talking absolute drivel and buzzing off my tits within half hour. I remember getting to Corley Services for a piss stop and letting Harry get full English inside him to sort him out. Whilst sitting on a grass verge everyone's joining me in my altered state and getting smashed blissfully in the sunshine.
The rest of the journey is a blur but as we pulled into this site everyone looked at each other as if to say this can't be it? Well those that could see straight. I could have been in Beirut and it would have looked like Barbados. It was a rubble strewn temporary car park that looked more like a bomb site rather than a venue set down. As we walked off the coach though the vibe was immense. Coaches from Exeter, Aberdeen, Blackburn and other faraway towns filled the area and everyone was milling about drinking, smoking, chatting and baggy dancing hunched round dodgy Escort XR3i's .So many bods were wearing faded flared jeans, long sleeved band t-shirts and Reni hats, it was a miracle no one got blown away.
As we traipsed into the venue across the worst manmade bridge I've ever seen we walked into this field and it really was a sight to behold. (How that bridge never collapsed is beyond me as the stewards were more fucked up than the audience). 30000 people in a field/park ready to party and but as most know, it was a shambles of the highest order. But we the crowd made that day. A double friendly atmosphere and good times were had. The Roses, you couldn't hear them (or get a beer) but they were secondary to the buzz of all the likeminded dancing in radiation dust, sharing spliffs and creating the positivity that surrounded that special era.
PS I saw a Punky bloke with hooves instead of feet which has been verified by 3 other people.© Words – Stuart Deabill