Heaton Park gears up for Stone Roses comeback gig

Stone Roses' lead singer Ian Brown, during a performance on the main stage at the 2009 Reading Festival Photo: Brian O'Sullivan / EMPICS Entertainment

The Stone Roses will make their eagerly awaited comeback tonight as they headline the first of their homecoming shows in Manchester tonight.

The quartet, often hailed as the inspiration for a generation of bands, fell apart 16 years ago and fans had all but given up on a reconciliation.

But after burying the hatchet last year, the band behind Fool's Gold and She Bangs The Drums will top the bill at their own mini-festival in Heaton Park.

It will be their first large scale show in the UK since guitarist John Squire walked out in 1996. The remainder of the group called it a day six months later in the wake of a disastrous slot at Reading Festival.

The Mancunian act - fronted by singer Ian Brown - are still revered for their first self-titled album, recognised as one of the greatest rock debuts.

The group have been cited as an inspiration by acts such as Oasis and Kasabian, but despite continuing interest in their music, rumours of a reunion were repeatedly quashed over the years.

Brown and Squire did not speak for well over a decade following the split.

The Stone Roses performed their first gig in 16 years in Ian Brown's home town, Warrington, in May Credit: Zak Hussein / PA Archive

However, last year the group - which also features bassist Gary "Mani" Mounfield and drummer Alan "Reni" Wren - staged a press conference in London to announce they would be playing Manchester shows this summer, as well as festivals.

They revealed they had eventually been brought together by the funeral of Mani's mum and had already been in rehearsals.

They debuted new songs last month at a low-key secret gig at Warrington's Parr Hall and have played some European festival dates. But many are considering tonight's show at Heaton Park as the comeback proper.

They sold 210,000 tickets for the trio of gigs in less than an hour, to become the fastest selling shows in the UK. Tickets have gone on to be exchanged for four-figure sums.

The group - formed by childhood friends Brown and Squire - quickly acquired fans with their 1989 album.

Within months of its release they had played major shows at Blackpool's Tower Ballroom and then their Spike Island concert, which forms the backdrop to a forthcoming movie.

But legal problems with their record label and difficult-second-album-syndrome meant the follow-up came five and a half years later. A switch to a heavier, bluesy sound and a changed musical environment on their return at the end of 1994 meant they struggled to repeat the success.

Reni quit the band in March 1995 and then a mountain-biking accident involving Squire meant the cancellation of a headline appearance at Glastonbury that summer.

Relations within the band grew strained, he walked out in April of the next year and the band limped on until October.

Squire went on to form his band Seahorses and has since made a living as an artist.

Brown continued to record as a solo star with hits such as F.E.A.R. and Corpses, but was famously jailed for a short spell for threatening behaviour towards airline cabin staff.

Mani went on to join rock act Primal Scream while Reni dropped out of the music world entirely, spending time with his family.