By Cam Grace
Reunions don’t come more hotly anticipated than that of the recently reformed Stone Roses. An earth shattering, era defining debut album, years in the wilderness and a perplexing internal chemistry which exploded amid a very public meltdown.- all tempting ingredients for a documentarian.
Shane Meadows, as both a fan of the band and a director is faced with an almost impossible brief – to construct a film which celebrates the enigma of the Roses without shattering it. Not only does he achieve this but he somehow manages to deliver a stirring testament to the power of pop music.
Made of Stone appears on three acts: a triumphant free gig at tiny Warrington Hall, a mini tour in Europe and finally a colossal homecoming at Heaton Park, Manchester in front of 75,000 people. Intermittent segments detailing the band’s history include some tremendous unseen footage of the members as scooter rats and some hilarious early TV interviews. Bust ups with management and labels are touched on but the internal tumult that drove a wedge between them 20 years before, is largely sidestepped.
Meadows film is more centered on the concept of hero worship. It explores what it means to adore a group of musicians beyond basic and economic rationality. It’s also about identity. The Stone Roses are four people, or no one at all.
Interestingly, the closing credits divulge the use of a “re-recording mixer”. Anyone who saw The Roses perform back at The Metro in ’96 or during their recent Festival Hall gig will attest that Ian Brown is the most erratic of live vocalists. That some of this film had obviously been sonically doctored (particularly a suspiciously pitch perfect 12 minute long Fools Gold which closes the film) – comes as no surprise to those of us with ‘the knowledge’