Like so many who snapped up tickets, I will be attending the premier of Stone Roses movie documentary Made of Stone next week. Here’s some preview thoughts in anticipation of what’s in store for fanatic audiences…
In a week’s time, new rockumentary The Stone Roses: Made of Stone receives its red carpet premier in the band’s hometown of Manchester. The much anticipated movie chronicles the iconic foursome’s surprise reunion, culminating in three record-breaking Heaton Park gigs last year.
Directed by self-confessed Stone Roses fan Shane Meadows, the film promises to be unflinching in its access to a group of musicians who have shared a fair amount of animosity. Most critical was the public fall out between chief songwriting duo John Squire, lead guitarist, and Ian Brown, vocalist, when Squire quit the band in 1996. With original drummer Alan ‘Reni’ Wren already gone under a cloud, struggles over oppressive recording contracts and famously difficult second albums had surely taken some toll. It was over, with the ensuing bitterness clearly stooped in regret for an epic self-destruction arguably robbing the world of the last great English guitar band.
“Even in their heyday, lumped in with the early 90’s ‘Madchester’ scene, the band was secretive, evasive.”
So when the impossible was made reality in 2011 and the guys kissed and made up enough to announce a tour, everyone was aghast. This is really the backdrop that makes Made of Stone such a fascinating prospect, whether you know and appreciate The Stone Roses at all. Even in their heyday, lumped in with the early 90’s ‘Madchester‘ scene, the band was secretive, evasive. Deliberately coy and awkward in interviews, they famously described their gang mentality as “The Egg” – with all outside the tight-knit group pecking feverishly to get in.
With maturity and indeed a keener commercial sense, this unwillingness to court limelight has waned arguably at a point where there’s more to lose. Inviting Shane Meadows’ cameras backstage seems a canny move, given his allegiance to the cause and his notable skill. He is the man behind what I believe to be the greatest British film ever made with 2006’s ‘This Is England‘, and has experience-of-sorts in rockumentary work with 2009’s fictional ‘Le Donk and Scor-zay-zee‘.
In pre-release interviews Meadows has encouragingly hinted at the level of intimacy captured by Made of Stone. However, he cites a publicised on-stage row during a Roses show in Amsterdam as a difficult situation for him to negotiate. Somewhat understandably, he felt uncomfortable trying to stoke the fires for dramatic effect and poke cameras into fractious dressing rooms. Opting to tackle a turbulent back-story with archive footage, this might be where Made of Stone will both delight and disappoint.
“If the experience purely stands as a flattering love-letter to a much more nuanced subject, I think a healthy dose of cynicism for why it exists at all is fair.”
Personally I’m as excited by seeing this film as I was attending the Heaton Park comeback shows. However if the experience purely stands as a flattering love-letter to a much more nuanced subject, I think a healthy dose of cynicism for why it exists at all is fair. We will inevitably get a live concert DVD at some stage, so if you really need proof of why this band are held in such high esteem why not just let the music do the talking?
What I hope we see is more than a gushing, sterile tribute movie and something that really documents in detail this infinitely enigmatic band. From the first pangs of their meteoric rise, through to the untold truths of what went wrong and how the lingering wounds were patched up enough to play on.
There are so many fascinating stories and musical twists within what was an alarmingly short recording career, so when I return to review The Stone Roses: Made of Stone next Friday let’s hope it does them justice!