Olympia, Dublin :What an unusual career Ian Brown has had. Twenty years ago, he was the figurehead of the world’s most acclaimed band, as The Stone Roses released an ageless debut album and his voice soundtracked a generation. I Wanna Be Adored, he used to sing, and adored he was. Nowadays, Cheryl Cole gets more serious critical consideration. The consensus among taste-makers says Brown is irrelevant and repetitive, his anger-management issues a stain on a once-great career.Well, this show was proof that while critical acclaim can be fickle, fans are more steadfast. Given the choice between the rapturous reception he received here and stellar reviews or positions in end-of-year best-of lists, Brown would take the fan base and stuff the critics – and I suspect he’s right. The crowd chanted his name before he even appeared, and when he strutted on stage, with his trademark bob and nod, like a boxer entering the arena, the reception was euphoric. But Brown is no heritage act – his fans aren’t patiently sitting through new material in order to sing along to old favourites; they sang every drawn-out syllable of every song he performed.
While none of his solo albums have reached the heights of either Stone Roses release, Brown has found his formula, with repetitive rhythms underpinning vaguely anthemic lyrics. His singles, in particular, have been unfairly maligned, but live, the lack of variation proves telling, and his notoriously unlovely voice is particularly exposed. Even strong songs are bludgeoned into submission rather than sung – in comparison, Jedward sound like formally trained choristers.
But with the crowd singing lustily along, his voice hardly mattered, and as he rolled out Fools Goldduring the encore, his skinny fists raised to the heavens, it was clear that Ian Brown is always going to be adored.