The best of London, the best of Manchester

Good evening, welcome back to the blog and I hope all is well in your corner of the world wherever that may be. I’ll start this post late tonight (Tuesday) and probably get it completed tomorrow by which point everyone in the UK will be halfway through the Justice Tonight tour with three nights still to come. Apparently it’s going to snow in England today so I hope that doesn’t impact anyone’s travel plans for the remaining three nights yet to come in London, Glasgow and Liverpool. More special guests are promised and I can now officially say I wish like mad that I was going to the Liverpool concert.

However I’ve been a bit busy so I need to backtrack a few nights and focus on events that took place on the second night in Manchester at The Ritz. From the early planning stages of the Justice Tonight tour it was clear that we were going to be in for something not only very special but also very different. Guest stars on tours seems like a very 1960′s thing which sadly (with the exception of many concerts in the obvious cities like London and New York) has for the most part stopped happening. Perhaps it’s due to a lack of camaraderie amongst musicians, or the lack of a ‘scene’ or it could just be because of money and politics. Whatever the reason it’s a pity it doesn’t happen more as it’s often a brilliant thing. This tour already had three elements that meant it would work, Mick Jones performing Clash songs, Pete Wylie and The Farm providing excellent ambassadorship for Merseyside and a cause that means something to the audience at the gigs and the musicians themselves. It’s those elements that have seen the list of special guest appearances swell and it looks to continue. So to Manchester….

ClashBlogger bias alert: When I look through my collection of music I’d argue that London and Manchester have been the two greatest cities for music over the 30+ years that I’ve been paying attention and buying music. A huge percentage of my favourite artists originate from one or the other or at worst the surrounding towns, it’s been that way for decades now and shows no sign of stopping. I’d give honourable mentions to Liverpool, Glasgow and Sheffield too but London and Manchester are top of that pile. London’s greatest band over that time of course has been The Clash whereas from Manchester you could make a good case for Joy Division/New Order, The Smiths, The Stone Roses or perhaps Oasis depending on your vintage. (I’d vote for James also but that’s for another post). When the lights went up at The Ritz rumours were already flying around that the gig would feature very special guest stars that were previously unannounced and so it was. I’d wager that few seriously expected to see Mick and Pete joined front and centre by another notable duo of guitarist and vocalist who wrote one of the best albums ever. As the lights rose there were Ian Brown and John Squire of The Stone Roses ready to launch into Bankrobber (after a snippet of their own work with Elizabeth My Dear).


Now’s not the time to launch into a history of The Stone Roses but I think many will agree that their debut album was one of the best things to happen since The Clash split up. Seeing those two share a stage with Mick Jones was like one of those gathering of heads of state photos except these are decent people. Ian Brown of course still can’t sing in tune but seeing him do this apeman shuffle along with John Squire adding to the guitar noise is one of those moments that will last forever in the memories of those lucky enough to attend. It also speaks volumes as to the importance of this tour, the cause itself and the relationships and respect commanded by Mick Jones and Pete Wylie. I’ve not found much in the way of interviews but I’ve a feeling many of these special guests have volunteered rather than being asked. Which tells you so much about The Hillsborough Justice Campaign.

mick jones john squire ian brown The best of London, the best of Manchester

Image courtesy John Johnson Photography - Three legends at The Ritz

Here’s a link to some great photographs of the pair of Stone Roses on stage taken by John Johnson, one of which I’ve borrowed above. I’m also overdue in pointing you in the direction of John Robb (I’m sure many of you have already been following it) and his excellent site and friend of the blog Louder Than War. John’s got my dream job, formerly a member of Membranes (you’ll need to be my vintage) and Goldblade John has gone on to become a successful writer and has authored a number of books before launching the frankly excellent Louder Than War site which focuses on music and the arts. If you don’t visit it often you should, it will remind you of the good old days of the UK music press when there was something to be said. John has been the MC of sorts on the Justice Tonight tour and has been maintaining a superb tour diary which you have to read. I wish he’d have told me I’d have been happy to tag along and proof read each article and help with the odd interview. Here’s where you can get current and I’m hoping to catch up with John for an interview after the tour is done.

I can’t not mention London and Manchester in a football context this morning either and I don’t need to explain our London superiority over our northern friends at City and United I’m sure. However this is really the time for football unity not division. (but losing at Basel…?)

Right then, I’ve got to run but will do my best to be back later today with the early news from the London concert which takes place in a few hours. Why the fuck am I sitting in Phoenix? Tim.


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