Ian Brown is currently on his first tour in more than a decade — the trek kicked off last night in Leeds at 02 Academy and continues tonight in Glasgow. Fans don’t appear too happy with the Stone Roses frontman, though. During Sunday’s Leeds set, numerous audience members took to social media to complain that Brown was onstage performing with no band and (badly) singing over a backing track. “Gutted to see @ianbrown turn up to his £40 a ticket, sold out gig at leeds tonight WITH NO BAND,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “I’m a life long fan but it was bad. #ianbrown does karaoke and butchers his own tunes. Most were too pissed to care but I had to get out after this one.” “Funniest gig i’ve ever been to,” another fan wrote.
Another Leeds audience member told the BBC that they had seen Brown’s solo sets before, but this one felt different, and not in a good way. “I’ve seen him live as a solo act before and while there’s an acceptance that his voice won’t be great, the live performance aspect is where the energy comes from,” a Leeds resident named Steven Latham said. “Sadly there wasn’t a band, so there was no energetic drummer, no masterful guitarist, just him singing along badly to a backing track – it just left me cold and disinterested.” He added: “Very little effort was put in planning these gigs and for that sort of ticket price it’s scandalous and disrespectful.”
Brown hasn’t lost everyone, however. Sleaford Mods defended the Stone Roses singer on Twitter, writing: “Ian Brown’s solo stuff has always been more hip hop and beat orientated so his new set up works. It’s not like he’s black sabbath or summat is it.”
This comes a little more than a year after Brown made headlines for canceling his appearance at the 2021 Neighbourhood Weekender festival, which required attendees to provide proof of COVID vaccination. “My Saturday night headline show at NHBD Weekender Festival will now not happen! I refuse to accept vaccination proof as condition of entry. Refunds are available!” Brown tweeted at the time. During the pandemic, Brown also became known for promoting COVID conspiracy theories and anti-vaxx rhetoric, and arguing that masks weren’t necessary. Similar to Van Morrison, he also released an anti-lockdown song in 2020.
Brown’s tour currently has several sold-out dates and will also hit Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Nottingham, and London.