What Shane Meadows’ reunion doc lacks in journalistic rigour, it makes up for with tear-jerking affection
Halfway through This Is England director Shane Meadows’ film about the reformation of The Stone Roses, the band play the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam. Instead of performing the billed ‘I Am The Resurrection’ as their final song, drummer Reni decides to go home. Ian Brown appears on stage, tells the crowd “the drummer’s a cunt” and walks off. It’s a dramatic moment in the build-up to the Roses’ Heaton Park shows that, briefly, looks like it might put the three nights in Manchester in jeopardy. Meadows, however, decides not to ask the band what happened, because he doesn’t want to invade their privacy. Rather, he offers the explanation that Reni was not happy with his in-ear monitors. Go into this film looking for a Louis Theroux style deconstruction and you’ll leave disappointed. A lack of journalistic rigour is the first problem with The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone.
It also bleeds into the second problem. When Meadows first goes to meet the Roses at their rehearsal space in Warrington, he arrives before the band. In the empty room he finds a blackboard, on which is written a setlist for the Heaton Park shows that includes the word ‘newie’. Meadows is excited at the prospect of some new tunes from his favourite band – but doesn’t ask them about it. The third problem is the lack of interviews, strange considering how long Meadows spent with the Roses. There are snippets, like Mani standing outside a hotel saying his T-shirt looks like “an explosion in a Refreshers factory”. But nothing substantial.
And yet, what Meadows has managed to create is a tear-jerking account of one of Britain’s most important bands rebuilding themselves. The footage of the Roses working out how to put together ‘Where Angels Play’ is fascinating. Seeing them work their way through the entirety of ‘Waterfall’ is truly beautiful. They’re all present, getting along, making magic. Later, the extraordinary musicianship possessed by the band is on show during an extended version of ‘Fools Gold’. It’s touching. And magnificent.
But what The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone excels at is capturing how much the reunion means to fans. Outside Warrington Parr Hall, where the Roses played a surprise comeback gig on May 23, 2012, one man attempts to explain why the band mean so much to him. He can’t put it into words, he says. It’s just a feeling. He explains how the Roses influenced every aspect of his life: his haircut, his decision not to wear a tie to work, his attitude. The band are his everything, and fans like him are who this film is for. Sure, they might one day want to know what happened in Amsterdam. And they’d probably like to hear some new songs. But for now it’s enough to enjoy the glory of their favourite band being back together. If you love this band, this film will make you cry.