BBC Manchester - John Squire Live
Manchester Ritz Review

2nd February 2003

Manchester Ritz

John Squire at the Ritz was always going to be an emotional experience, despite a solidly down-to-earth support slot from the Oasis and The Bunnymen attitude rock of The Rain Band. After nearly a decade of Ian Brown refusing to touch Stone Roses tunes, Squire has dropped the other way and woven a set around the likes of Waterfall and Made Of Stone, interspersing them with tracks from his seriously underachieving solo debut, Time Changes Everything.

There is no faulting his guitar work. He is simply stunning as he steps away from the mic to fill the greasily romantic venue with a blast of nostalgic riffery or newer fretwork on the better parts of that album, Joe Louis and Transatlantic Near Death Experience. The problem comes when he steps back to the microphone.

John Squire cannot sing. There is a reason why he’s backed up his tunes with the voices of Brown and Chris Helme and the reason becomes apparent as the gig goes on. He sounds like David Bowie on Stars In Their Eyes trying to do Dylan and his nasal whine destroys Stone Roses tunes and his own without prejudice.

If you want to see substandard covers of She Bangs The Drums and Tightrope, you’d be better off saving a tenner and catching a tribute band, as the combination of Squire’s spot-on guitar and appalling vocals is a nostalgia trip too far, and as he rips into the instrumental end of Fools Gold, you are only grateful that it could be near the end of the gig.

Nostalgia breeds rose-coloured glasses and it’s apparent that the majority of the crowd are here for the Roses stuff alone, as Squire’s solo work, despite being more suited to his voice, is met with polite applause, while the Roses’ stuff gets rapturous receptions, when all it sounds like are bad cover versions of the originals.

Squire will always hold a special place in the Mancunian heart, given his place in making the city musically what it is, but on the strength of his solo outing, he needs to employ a singer or get on the phone to Mr Brown. There are only so many people that didn't see the Roses in their prime, and anyone who did knows that even though Ian can't sing live, he can do it with ten times more style than this.

Back To Media Articles