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Ian Brown exclusive and tickets to give away

John Robb interviews, assesses and judges King Monkey himself – plus there’s a gig ticket give-away.

Published on November 30th 2007.


Ian Brown exclusive and tickets to give away

“Its not where you’re from, it’s where’re you at,” Ian Brown famously said to 30,000 fans chanting Manchester at Spike Island - the 1990 Roses outdoor gig when indie went mainstream. The Stone Roses were at the very pinnacle of their career as they changed a generation with one album and a couple of key gigs including Spike Island.

Brown may have been trying to deflate a precious moment of Northern nationalism but it backfired in the best possible way. Seventeen years later, on 7-8 December he’s at Manchester Central. It’s a special couple of nights in the city. The return of the prodigal son. Ian Brown gigs always have an atmosphere unlike any other.

Pete Doherty gets away with it. Peter Buck and Vinnie Jones got away with it but I didn’t have Bono in the dock as a character witness and I didn’t spend half a million quid on a brief, I got a lawyer from Stretford.

Brown oozes a natural cool that transcends any need for trad showbiz posturing. His loping king monkey moves have been copied by everyone from Liam Gallagher to Damon Albarn and the Arctic Monkeys based their plan of attack on the Roses’ grass roots rise. The Roses changed so much and then fell apart. For 11 years Brown has been out on his own. His music is idiosyncratic and original as he mashes up whatever genres have caught his ear sung in his distinctive no bullshit voice. It’s very, very Mancunian.And it comes with heaps of attitude. The self-belief generated by the Stone Roses still pervades the city, that sense of anything’s possible. The new generation of brilliant new Manchester bands such as the Courteeners, Twisted Wheel (who are supporting Brown on some of the dates) and Paris Riots.

It’s a legendary status that he seems at odds with.“I have arguments with kids when I meet them all the time when they say the Roses were legendary. We were nothing on the Pistols and the Clash I say and they start laughing.”

Ian Brown has certainly led an eventful life: he was the brown belt karate kid who was turned on by punk rock, who drifted around Europe till he hooked up with old buddy John Squire in 1984. The band spent five years in curious Mancunian isolation perfecting that debut 1989 album of pristine guitar pop with a sultry and proud attitude that still makes top five lists of classic albums.

The Roses cut one more album and fell apart in a surprisingly acrimonious split when first, drummer Reni and then John Squire left the gang.

They will not be reforming.
“I haven’t spoken to John for 11 years. I like the freedom I’ve got now. Why should I go back to the Roses? When I sold out both nights in Manchester my mate texted me with ‘where did it all go wrong.’”

When the Roses collapsed many clueless pundits wrote Ian Brown off but he bounced back with a fascinating solo career that has lurched off at whatever whim and tangent that he has felt like. Five albums encompassing hip hop, beats, mariachi, rock, indie, dub funk and punk.

He remains true to himself and still retains that leanness that typifies the best minds of his generation. His current album and third to go top five, The World Is Yours is arguably his best yet, a 21st century take on Marvin Gaye's classic What Goes On. A lush strings ride on hip hop grooves whilst Ian intones agit rock lyrics tearing into the war in Iraq.

“That was my blueprint yeah I wanted it to be beautiful with socially conscious lyrics.”

The album packs a rare political candour and anger that sits uncomfortably with much modern media. A recent Guardian interview saw Brown sound off about everything from the war to Palestine to hoodies to corruption in the Catholic Church. It was hard to work out whether the Guardian was with him or against him.

“I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a stitch up. They said let’s do this with your solutions to world problems. I smelt a stitch up but when it came to it they saw me right. They did me a favour because they didn’t print everything I said. I was on about razing churches to the ground, and all that.”

Unsurprisingly such strong opinions did not go unnoticed.

“I got something from someone who works in the Lebanese embassy saying we salute you brother, one from friends of Palestine saying thanks for supporting the brothers and sisters. I got an email from a guy in the Israeli air force saying come over and we will go into Gaza for a peace mission...crazy.”

For a man who preaches love Brown seems to have nose for trouble. He, of course, once spent four months in jail for an air rage incident.

“It was a joke. I got the same sentence as Gary Glitter. Unbelievable. Pete Doherty gets away with it. Peter Buck and Vinnie Jones got away with it but I didn’t have Bono in the dock as a character witness and I didn’t spend half a million quid on a brief, I got a lawyer from Stretford. I realised within ten minutes it was all pre-ordained. It was a farce really but I promised myself that I would get that time back. I’ve had a great nine years since.”

The last of the great maverick rock stars laughs, he knows he’s got his time back. Ian Brown is walking talking proof of not being ground down by the system. Existing outside the boring celebrity culture and the grind of the music business he creates music on his own terms and his own whims.The two night set the Central are a celebration of this - the spirit of real Manchester.

As promised in the title, Confidential is giving away a pair of tickets to Ian Brown at Manchester Central. Ian Brown is finishing his UK tour with his home-town shows. Tickets cost £25 (plus booking fee) and can be purchased here. To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets, please enter your details in the form below.

To be in with a chance of winning enter your details in the form below

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