I don’t know about you but in my life I have learnt that no matter how much I plan things they always end up taking a completely different turn.

I don't question myself, therefore, when, after a planned night out seeing a band in central London and making one spontaneous phone call to friends, I find myself an hour later running through a park in East London towards the Shepherd’s Bush Empire where John Squire is playing tonight. “Alive, it’s good to be alive…” Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie is singing in my walkman as I reach the venue.

The door man has a look of a tough man about him, but he lets me in without paying. I shoot down the stairs to the venue just as John Squires sings the old Stone Roses song ‘Shoot You Down’. The venue is very busy tonight. There are lots of people tightly squeezed up against the stage with no space left around them, but, despite that, they are still attempting to jump up and down to the rhythm of the song.

I decide to search for my friends and a better view upstairs of the venue. Not that it’s accessible if you don’t have VIP ticket but the same door man is at the right place at the right time again and soon I’m viewing the whole venue from a balcony.

Shepherd’s Bush Empire has one of the best stages and lighting in London. At least in my opinion anyway. The band which has three guitarists in the front line, one pianist and a drummer look tiny on the wide stage, but very much like they hold power over the whole venue.Spotlights are dragged across the stage and up towards the audience and from time from time the whole stage turns red as the lights illuminate above it.

Tonight's gig was organised mainly to promote Squire's new album 'Marshall's House', which was released in February of this year and the band play a handful of tracks from that.

'Room In Brooklyn' has very laid back attitude as does 'Lighthouse & Buildings, Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth'. 'Automat' , however, is harder in sound.

Another Stone Roses song is coming. This time it’s ‘Ten Story Love Song’. The original lyrics are as good as ever and, to judge by the audience's reaction, much of whom is jumping around in ecstasy, the music is no less inspiring.

“The next song is called ‘Waterfall’” announces Squire which is followed by loud applause from the audience. Guitars create rhythmic sounds with echoes and then slowly start building up with Squire adding his voice. It’s great to hear all those songs but I have to admit it’s proving to be a challenge for the band to get anywhere near to where the Stone Roses were. It seems to lack the spirit and spontaneity. To be fair , this doesn't seem to bother the front rows of the downstairs auditorium and most of the people there are now throwing themselves around manically. The security people fish a few fans out of the crowd and push them by the sides of the stage.

‘Sugar Spoon Sister’ is the last song of the main set. Then the band are gone and the stage turns all blue with lights. The crowd are not going home yet though which is clear from their loud whistling and screaming for more songs. The band come back up on the stage without hesitation. ‘Angel’ comes next. Squire walks around the stage looking into the audience and stroking his red guitar tirelessly.

The band set off for their last song ‘Fools Gold’. We get treated to some vigorous guitar solos especially at the end of the song. The whole gig dissolves in an enormous swell of guitar music, sweeping the exhausted audience along right in front of it. Finally, at coming up to 11, the band close their set and with the lights going off and leaving the stage in the dark we know it’s now all over.

It was the first time I saw John Squire live. He has lots of strong solo material in his set as well, and I can understand why he still has a strong enough following , even all these years after the Stone Roses, to fill out a venue with a capacity of 1900. It wouldn’t be a compliment from me to say “it was worth the money” but I certainly had a good time. It is, as Bobby says, definitely good to be alive. Except, of course, you never know what will happen tomorrow night.















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Commenting On: Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, 26/3/2004 - John Squire








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