Released nationwide on Thursday June 6th, the Shane Meadows directed-doc is an audio oddessy into his all-time favourite band. A band that became the talking point du jour for indie fans old and new last summer. Made by a fan, for the fans – the film tries to understand the nature of fandom and how fame accompanies this.
Made Of Stone opens with a breathtaking shot of Ian Brown striding in front of the stage, a triumphant, swaggering homecoming – a rock’n’roll resurrection like no other.
An Alfred Hitchcock quote on the joys of creative freedom gives context to not only to the special sound of the Stone Roses but also for one of England’s most direct and distinctive directors, responsible for This Is England, Room For Romeo Brass.
Shane Meadows uses a non-linear approach to tell the story of the Stone Roses, rarely uncovering anything we don’t already know. He immediately sets out his stall to tell the tale with wit, warmth & wonder – all from a fan’s perspective.
Like so many other people growing up in the late 1980s, the Stone Roses were Shane Meadows favourite band, meaning this documentary was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him. This sense of awesome opportunity shines through the film – which quickly becomes a love-spreads love-letter to the baggy brilliance of the Roses.
The film does not ignore the band’s break-up, but nor does it shine new light on the drawn-out acrimonious split that sucked the life-force out of the band. In fact, the doc barely touches on the band’s disposition for self-destruction – surely something we’d love to see a new perspective on?
What it does do perfectly is show the absolute fever-pitch excitement of fans, an absolute brotherly buzz around the very last band we expected to see back on stage again. 20-years later, the Roses are back on stage.
We can see what this means to fans. And it does mean something really special.
There are memories that fans have cherished for a lifetime, but there’s also an appetite to create new memories too. The vox-pops captured outside the band’s first reunion gig, a surprise show at Warrington’s Parr Hall, are particularly touching.
What the doc fails to do is to find out more about the band’s memory, and in particular what changed? John Squire said – through the medium of his art: “I have no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses.”
But Shane Meadows is too respectful of his heroes and does not ask the awkward questions of John, Ian, Reni or Mani. (Even when another huff from Reni interrupts the flow of the film). It’s more of a standard rock-doc; filled with goofy backstage antics backstage, reflective voice-overs and big-time helicopter shots.
More than anything the film is a rousing recognition of the band’s music. With priceless footage from their early inspiration at Mod events in Great Yarmouth, to early-gigs in the North West to their cock-sure confidence in early television interviews. More than anything, the sheer genius groove of the Stone Roses to make music that unites and inspires dominates the screen. See it at a loud cinema. For music fans, the extended Fools Gold riff – filmed with 35(!) cameras - is worth the admission price alone.
Although the homecoming concert was probably not the big come-back it was claimed, after gigs in Barcelona, Amsterdam and playing to Eric Cantona et al in Lyon - the film finishes back where it all began, Manchester. The Heaton Park gig looks spectacular on the big screen, the Stone Roses just look cool as fuck and the fans – both old and new - are absolutely having it.
Shane Meadows’ film does leave us wanting more: There’s so many stones left unturned. But maybe leaving us wanting more is now completely ingrained in the Stone Roses DNA. They wanna be adored? Maybe leaving a few skeletons in the cupboard might sometimes be the best way.
Expertly catching a rock’n’roll resurrection like no other, the memories are Made Of Stone and the legacy spreads. No-one recaptures their youth - how could they - but who really cares when it sounds as good as this. It’s time to make some new memories.