Documentary sends fans on a nostalgia trip

by Stephen Findlater

Loosely billed as a documentary, Shane Meadows’ Stone Roses flick Made of Stone is more of a love-letter, retelling his own affair with the Stone Roses through the voices of the fans who are getting to relive their youth.

The culmination is the epic return to Heaton Park last summer with 220,000 fans witnessing the comeback over three heady nights.

Meadows’ film provides a nostalgia-trip for the good times rolling again, scarcely touching on the downward spiral that precipitated the band’s demise around the Second Coming.

Indeed, when history could possibly be repeating itself with Reni racing for a taxi instead of lining out for an encore in Amsterdam, Meadows – the filmmaker behind This is England – steps back with a weary apology to camera, saying it would not be right to get in the band’s face at this time of tension.

As documentary-maker, this is inexcusable. Similarly, Reni is never given a voice – or refused to supply one – despite seemingly being central in the ragged moments of their break-up, bewildered by the changing status of the band.

But Made of Stone is a primarily a beautifully shot homage made by a devout fan.

Meadows missed out on the notorious 1990 Spike Island gig – supposedly due to a bad acid trip the night before – that remains the Roses’ pseudo-Woodstock moment but he gets to sample and document the fervour of the resurrection.

This is perfectly encapsulated in the hastily-arranged free gig in Warrington’s Parr Hall announced just a few hours before the foursome take the stage.

Fans literally drop everything, one builder apologising on camera for knocking through a mate’s wall and not finishing the tidy-up. Another attempts to bargain with a temporary staff member with a permanent position in exchange for one of the 1,100 entry wrist-bands on offer. His offer is turned down.

The exchanges are awkward and funny in equal measure. Therein, the emotion of what the band provided for a fleeting time in the late 1980s is deliciously raw.

Each slow-motion crowd shot – and there are many – is laden with passion showing why the band matter, a sensation which is hardly vocalised but probably best explained by the fan in the film’s trailer: “You know and I know, but you can’t write it down.”

As such, it might leave the uninitiated a bit cold. They are not many answers to the question why, especially the incredible intricate relationship between Ian Brown and John Squire, who says coyly: “It’s a friendship that defines us both and it needed fixing,” of their reunion but not much more.

Perhaps much of the fall-out has been covered before in the BBC documentary Blood On The Turntable – War Of The Roses.

Likewise for newcomers, several songs are played in their entirety whether it be in a gorgeously-shot black and white reunion at a secret country pile location between Liverpool and Manchester or at the triumphant Heaton Park gigs.

But the film is about the glory of the return rather than the reasons for it and Meadows sumptuously records all of this in glorious high definition.

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