A record sleeve, a Heaton Park ticket or a Stone Roses T-shirt. That - and a mad dash to Warrington town centre to queue for a free wristband - was all it took to gain entry to the first Stone Roses gig in 16 years.
A surprise warm-up for the reunited band's forthcoming tour, which includes three nights at the 75,000-capacity Heaton Park, last night's gig at Parr Hall was for just 1100 lucky fans.
Outside, it was a media circus. Inside, it was a Roses love-in. At 9.25, there was a cheer as superfan Liam Gallagher took his seat on the balcony. At 9.30, there was a deafening roar as the four original Stone Roses strode onstage, then a rumble of bass announcing opening track I Wanna Be Adored.
Moving on to fan favourite B-side Mersey Paradise and early single Sally Cinnamon, the band sounded glorious, with licks cascading effortlessly from John Squire's guitar and - for the most part - perfectly on-key vocals from Ian Brown.
Brown seemed to find his swagger after a storming Made Of Stone, even chiding the crowd for filming the show. "If you put those cameras down, maybe you can live in the moment," he instructed.
Heavy on material from the early part of the band's career, the 11-song set climaxed with Waterfall, She Bangs The Drums and a loose, funky Love Spreads which even saw Brown improvising a rap over the outro: "Stone Roses/On the stage/Stone Roses/all the rage," he spat.
There was no encore, but there was a touching scene to end as each member hugged each other member before lining up, arms aloft, to drink in the applause. Bassist Gary 'Mani' Mounfield, who had looked shell-shocked throughout, took the last word: "And we're still good looking," he shouted.
"It's the best thing that's ever happened in Warrington, ever!" one local teenager tells me, after the gig, as fans mill around outside the venue, still unable to process what just happened. "It's the best thing that's ever happened in my life!"
Tribute band The Clone Roses, who are coincidentally booked to play Warrington's Parr Hall this Saturday, have a tough act to follow.
Dan Stubbs @ztubbz
Here's a playlist of the The Stone Roses' set
9:32 AM | 24/05/2012
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