Derek Winnert

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This article was written on 05 Jun 2013, and is filled under Reviews.

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The Stone Roses: Made of Stone – Film Review

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In 2012, film director Shane Meadows (This Is England) is called up by Stone Roses singer Ian Brown to tell him his favourite band are getting back together. He says: ‘I hope you’re going to ask about making a film – just don’t give anyone else the job.’

This totally rockin’, spinetingling documentary is the result, telling the story of the band as they rehearse for their reunion, starting small in Warrington, continuing with a big European warm-up tour, and then culminating in three triumphant homecoming gigs at Manchester’s Heaton Park.

Meadows concentres on the laughs, the drama, the personalities, the loyal fans and the music, all of them happily up there on screen at richly enjoyable full volume, while carefully sifting among the copious and quite haunting archive material of the band in their first flush 25 years ago. He intercuts this old material skilfully and extremely effectively with his current new footage, often putting himself in the frame as a character in the story.

Meadows is there is Amsterdam when the Roses quartet have a very public falling out as the drummer walks out both the encore, angering the fans there who feel cheated, shortchanged and let down. But Meadows turns his cameras off in respect to the band, cancels following them at their next foreign gigs, breaks the narrative and only picks up the story without further ado (or explanation, frustratingly) at its triumphant finale.

The characters of the four band members emerge strongly – they’re powerful, sometimes abrasive personalities. You probably wouldn’t want to mess with Brown, Gary Mountfield, John Squire and Alan Wren. Their strong, sometimes conflicting views led to the band’s collapse first time round. But they seem likeable anyway and with their hearts in the right place.

The film gives lots of screen time to the rousing music, which emerges as possibly even better than in the old days. It makes you happy to have them back after 20 years. In truth, they’re slightly ‘old craggies’ to look at, but once on stage and the music stars they are ‘still good looking’ (as Brown says) and young and alive again.

(C) Derek Winnert 2013

As a kid, Meadows missed the their legendary Spike Island concert in 1990, but he took acid and gave his ticket away. This labour-of-love documentary finally expiates his guilt for that moment of madness at 17. It would make a perfect double bill with the fiction feature Spike Island on release quite soon.

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