Today marks 30 years since The Stone Roses iconic Spike Island performance. On 27th May 1990, the Manchester band performed to 27,000 people on the toxic wasteland in Widnes. At the time, poor organisation of the event led to it being deemed a failure. But, several years down the line, the band made history. Now, the small island between the Sankey Canal and River Mersey estuary is home to one of the most famous gigs the country has ever seen.
Spike Island came at the height of The Stone Roses success; they hit UK number one, performed on Top of the Pops and won four NME awards in the years leading up to the gig. Frontman Ian Brown always had it in mind that he wanted to play venues that no other band had ever played, and what a better time to do it.
Opening the stage with ‘I wanna be adored’, pictures and archive footage show a cloud of red dust rising from the ground as fans dance to their favourite band. The Stone Roses went on to play all the fan favourites including ‘Sally Cinnamon’ and ‘Made of Stone’. It will come as no surprise to any die-hard fans, that they closed the show with ‘I am the resurrection’.
However, the success of Spike Island didn’t come from the performance itself. It was from the celebration of youth culture that would later be known as “Madchester”.
In 1995, the band began to part ways. Starting with drummer Reni and shortly followed by guitarist John Squire, officially breaking up in 1996. Despite having successful music careers since the split, in 2011 rumours of a Stone Roses tour began to spread.
2012 was the year of the reunion. After a fifteen-year split, they were ready to take the world by storm again, headlining Manchester’s Heaton Park. Then in 2013, the film Spike Island was released, documenting the story of a group of teens attending the long-awaited event at Widnes. The band continued to tour until 2017, showing the world how history is made one last time.
Words by Eliza Laben