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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Ian Brown Visits SF

...and what happens? He gets arrested by SFPD in his hotel after he abruptly walks off the stage because he didn't like the audio of Great American Music Hall and a fan tries to get close to him. And after three songs! Not sure if its the audio or it's him. Because I read that in another gig, he was singing flat. And I've been to GAMH several times and loved their audio better than other SF venues. Hmm... There goes people's $35 ticket. But what can you expect from Ian Brown? We were hoping to be there (I heard he was singing Stone Roses classics such as I Wanna Be Adored and Made of Stone (my fave), but he's charging too much! I saw him years ago at The Fillmore when the Stone Roses were on tour with their second album (and after a 10-year break). And what happened? They cut the show short because John Squire apparently broke his finger. Oh well... I was sort of disappointed but at least they were almost done with the show. I can only imagine how that fan felt in Ian Brown's concert, hehe. Read more here. And here's another account from someone who witnessed it first-hand.

I also got a more detailed account of the incident. I am shocked! Al felt bad and wished he watched him when he found out that he sang Sally Cinnamon, a Stone Roses classic. This song he always dedicates to me and replaces the name Sally with Cindy, hehehe. I don't know what to say since I idolized Ian Brown for so many years and is a major influence in the britpop/indie scene with John Squire. I guess the only thing that can describe his actions is that he's on something. Anyway, read an excerpt from's gig journal -

Former (Stone) Roses Singer Loses Bloom

Ian Brown hit the stage and was given much love from the 500 or so fans in attendance, myself included. I remain a big fan of both Stone Roses albums, and I think "Solarized" is the best album Ian Brown has put out since "Second Coming."

The band played a song from one of his solo records, then played "Sally Cinnamon." Neither sounded particularly good, but hearing "Sally Cinnamon" performed live for the first time brought me back to a very happy time in my life and I enjoyed it.

They then kicked into "Made Of Stone," but Ian stopped at the chorus because he didn't like what he was hearing through his monitor. He went off-stage to chat with the monitor person, asking the crowd to bear with him.

Within a couple of minutes the band began "Made Of Stone" once more. Again Ian stopped and went off to have words with the monitor person. Two-thirds of the way through the third attempt at "Made Of Stone," some idiot jumped up on stage and barrelled into Ian's knees, wiping him out and sending him to the ground. Ian, understandably angry, started kicking the idiot. And punching the idiot. Ian was joined by his bass player. And guitarist. And drummer. And keyboardist. And percussionist. You could say it was overkill, especially since the idiot, laying on the stage, did not appear to be fighting back.

It looked like they were trying to kill the guy.

Up came the house lights.

Finally a couple of security guys made it up on stage and pulled the now-pummelled idiot toward the exit to the left of the stage. Ian wasn't done pounding the idiot, however, and continued swinging at and kicking the idiot even as security had him nearly off the stage. One large, blond security guy peeled Ian off the idiot. Ian and the security guy exchanged words, then Ian tried to grab the idiot again, and the security guy grabbed Ian again. Ian attacked the security guy. Ian was joined in his attack by his bass player. And guitarist. And drummer. And percussionist. AND as-yet-unseen trumpet player. Attacked by the entire band, the blond security guy (the only security left on stage as the others had taken the idiot away) went down, and the entire band proceeded to punch and kick him.

It looked like they were trying to kill the guy.

By the time other GAMH security arrived, the blond security guy was bleeding from his head.

The band left the stage.

I'd never seen anything like this in San Francisco where the locals, even at rock shows, tend to be mellow and calm, sometimes to a fault. I was so stunned by the goings on that I failed to take a single photo of the melee until the tail end, when the blond security guy was having his head stomped by the percussionist.

What photos I did get are available at

During this downtime I learned that prior to the show my friend John had been in the ticket line next to the now-pummelled idiot. Said idiot was apparently drunk out of his mind, from England, and a huge Ian Brown fan who spent his time in line going on and on the greatness of Ian Brown.

Twenty minutes passed before the crowd cheered the band's return. I did not cheer. I wasn't sure how I felt about it. Ian had every right to be mad at the idiot, but regardless of what the blond security guy said to Ian, he was doing his job and did not deserve to be brutally beaten. I looked around at the cheering crowd and thought, "These guys you are cheering just beat up a guy who hadn't done anything wrong..." It was bewildering.

Before the first song of act 2, Ian made matters worse by asking if anyone in the crowd wanted to fight. He invited potential pugilists up to the stage, even pointing out individuals, "You, with the glasses, come up, I'll fight you." It was distasteful at best. The crowd had just suffered through multiple delays and bloody violence -- the way to remind everyone that we were there to have a good time dancing around to music was surely not to invite more fighting.

Then he took it a step further and asked if there were any members of the security staff that wanted to fight. He repeated his question several times before finally getting around to starting a song. It was creepy to see a peace and love guy taunting the crowd and security staff this way.

I believe the band made it through three songs, including "Love Bug" and "Time Is My Everything," but I couldn't get into it. Ian's voice was completely flat, and the band couldn't save him, especially since he insisted on ending most songs acapella. The man was clearly unable to sing but insisted on sharing his voice with us without the cover of other instruments. Even mountains of chorus and delay on the vocals couldn't hide what was clearly lacking.

Is it possible that Ian Brown was trying to hide faded vocal abilities behind a facade of faulty equipment?

M'lady asked if I was OK. I told her I wasn't happy. She said, "That's obvious," and asked if I wanted to leave. I told her that if he would just do one Stone Roses song and not sound flat, he would probably win me back over.

They then started a Stone Roses song. Ian was flat. About a minute into it Ian again decided that what he was hearing through his monitors wasn't good enough and headed off-stage to speak with the monitor person.

At this point I shouted boos at the stage, something I don't recall having done since seeing The Butthole Surfers stink up the Rathskeller in Boston's Kenmore Square in the mid 1980s. Most of the friends I was with decided we'd had enough. They headed for the exit, I went to retrieve my checked bag. The band started up again. Ian was still flat and feedback was drowning out much of the music.

About five minutes into the ride home we got a call from our friend Pauline who, wanting to get her 28 dollars-worth, had decided to stay at the GAMH and stick it out. Pauline was calling to tell us that Ian had chucked his mic down to the stage and stormed off. The bass player tried to take over on lead vocals because Ian wasn't coming back on stage. That's when Pauline decided to leave.

Beyond the wasted $28, the needless violence, and the dumbass testosterone-fueled posturing, another thing that's bothering me is that next time I hear songs like "Waterfall" and "Sally Cinnamon," what will immediately come to mind is tonight's ugliness.

Those famous orange slices have grown moldy for this Roses fan.


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