Ian Brown At The Empire, Middlesbrough Wednesday 9th June 2010


For me Ian Brown is up there with the greatest front men; Morrissey, Weller, Dave Gedge, Mark E Smith, Peter Doherty, Shaun Ryder, Paul Heaton etc. He is a great front man; cool as, looks the part and talks the talk (his Zane Lowe interview on MTV2 was superb and he came across as a genuinely nice guy)

I love Ian Brown, probably more so solo than I did with The Stone Roses. Every solo album, in my view, has got better; he has improved on every release. Not everyone’s opinion, just mine. Anyway, I digress, back to the review.

 Last night I ventured out into the pouring rain to see the man in action, Ian Brown live in concert at Middlesbrough Empire. The venue is superb, an old ornate building from the outside and an intimate live venue on the inside. Tonight’s show was one of two warm up shows in preparation for his massive outdoor show this Friday in Manchester at Platt’s Field Park . Tonight’s venue holds approx 1200 people and Fridays massive outdoor event 15000, I know where I would rather be. Well I did until he started to sing!

Anyone who has seen Mr Brown in action knows he can’t hold a tune well but tonight’s efforts were appalling. His voice was low in the mix, his in-between song banter lost.

 The venue was packed but I was surprised that it hadn’t sold out way in advance of the show; it possibly did on the night but you certainly could buy tickets on the day. You would have thought if he was playing to 15000 on Friday that a 1200 capacity warm up gig would have sold out in minutes. Maybe the good people of Middlesbrough had heard him sing before!!!

 Tonight it is apparent Ian is in a good mood, last time I saw him he wasn’t and he stormed off stage midset never to return. Tonight he is smiling, chatting in between songs and to me enjoying every minute of the experience.

The crowd that come to see Ian Brown do so I would say for one main reason and that is in the hope he will play some Stone Roses classics and from his comments made to NME.Com a week or so ago we were in for a treat as he said he would be playing  songs spanning his whole career. How wrong we were! The set list relied heavily on his last two solo albums (The World is yours and My Way) both of which to listen to at home are excellent.

He played “Corpses”, “Marathon Man” (which sounded awful), “My Own Brain” (equally as bad, a very weak album filler) , “Crowning of the poor”, “Vanity Kills”, “Sister Rose”, “Time is my everything” , “Keep what you got”, “All ablaze”, “Longsight M13”, “Golden Gaze” plus many more.

His last song before the hugely anticipated encore was “F.E.A.R” which sounded superb, maybe because he doesn’t really have to sing it or perhaps he was finally getting his voice warmed up!

Anyway for me it was one of the few highlights. He went off, the crowd started chanting “Ian, Ian, Ian ……” why they couldn’t shout “Brownie, Brownie, Brownie” is beyond me as Ian is hardly a great name to chant in the hope of an encore!! He finally emerged and said “any requests?” to which the crowd all started shouting for Roses songs. The band fired up with “Fool’s Gold” which truly got the crowd going in fine style. The song finished and we waited for another Roses classic, praying that “Fools Gold” was the first of many. Sadly it wasn’t, the band launched into “Stellify

By now I knew it was all over I went and grabbed my coat and the song finished, he played one more new one; “Just like you”  and that was it. Off he went truly warmed up for Friday!

 I have seen Ian Brown before so in a way knew what to expect but this is a lesson learnt. In future I will avoid the live experience and stick to buying his CD’s. The songs he writes are excellent they just don’t translate well live. His voice as we all know is never great but tonight at times felt like torture.

Andrew H. Storey.

Unfortunately the Northernline.com has no pictures of Wednesdays gig but there is a clip on youtube of “Vanity Kills”. Catch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6zvFS64bkY

and a few on Facebook; “Stellify”:




“Golden Gaze”:


There are plenty of superb shows coming up at the Empire. See our previous features or go to: http://www.theempire.co.uk/home.html

A big thank-you to Ash at the Empire for allowing the northernline access to this show.

By peter on June 13, 2010

Check out all the pics

1 Comment » RSS Comment Feed

  1. Next time u go and see ian brown in Middlesbrough, have 10 vodka’s in the hairy lemon first, then by the time the gig actualy starts you’ll be too busy annoying everyone in the venue to even notice how bad the singing and song choice is. Know what I mean Mr Martin and his Mate.

    Comment by Paul jennis — June 20, 2010 @ 5:46 pm

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