LEGENDARY Madchester band Stone Roses are playing three huge comeback gigs this weekend - nearly 24 years since they were due to perform a historic show in Greenock.

Ian Brown, Mani, Reni and John Squire played the first of three mammoth open air shows at Heaton Park, Manchester, last night with the next show tonight and the final one tomorrow.

It comes as documents of the band's scheduled Greenock gig in 1988 surfaced.

One of those is the contract which detailed the band's live show at Rico's in Ann Street on 12 December that year, weeks before they hit the big time and went on to sell millions of records and play sell-out shows worldwide.

Greenock music promoter Andrew McDermid, aka McD, and fellow promoter Kenny Marshall, who saw the band in Manchester last night, were the men behind the '88 gig in what would have been one of the biggest concerts the town had ever seen.

The contract had been signed, a covering letter from the band's agent had been sent to the local men to confirm the go-ahead for the event and posters had been put up everywhere promoting it.

But the show fell victim to a last-minute cancellation after lead singer Ian Brown contracted laryngitis following a gig in Belfast and wasn't well enough to sing in Greenock.

Kenny told the Tele: "We didn't know anything about them in '88 but we could see there was a buzz being created and something was going on.

"The band were actually adamant to play in Greenock and were on at us to arrange it - they came to us.

"But I got a phone call to say Ian Brown was ill and that was that." He added: "We had to get lots of local bands to fill in on the night because we had hired the hall and the PA so we thought we might as well put something on instead of cancelling it." The Stone Roses had actually pushed for the Inverclyde show to take place themselves and were left disappointed when it had to be called off but they have since had a long-standing link to the area.

McD said: "The Roses was the first time we booked a band and they got big so quickly after that.

"I'm in a book and articles about the gig but it was me and Kenny who booked them.

"After that they kept us in the loop and we sold tickets for their gig at Glasgow Green and ran buses to it.

"Years later Ian Brown opened the new college studios and Mani did his first ever DJ gig in Greenock."