Cinema review: The Stone Roses: Made of Stone

By Reece Lawrence

The Stone Roses: Made of Stone is now showing at Manchester’s Cornerhouse – get your ticket’s here.

Shane Meadows’ documentary about one of the greatest bands of a generation is a thrilling song-like journey, with a hint of docu-drama weaved into its delicious verses.

The Stone Roses: Made of Stone chronicles the group’s rise from a 20-year wilderness to culminate in another ‘I was there’ moment – their monumental reunion gigs at Heaton Park last year.

Those moments were, as Meadows enjoys depicting through fan testimony, in abundance during the Stone Roses’ heyday in the late 80s and early 90s.

Meadows, best known for the excellent This Is England series, becomes an awestruck fan in this film as he follows his idols Ian Brown, John Squire, Gary ‘Mani’ Mounfield and Alan ‘Reni’ Wren through their resurrection.

For all the clear indications that this is essentially an expensive fan-made picture (Meadows has the enthusiasm of a giddy schoolboy just being around the band) the craft makes that notion totally acceptable.

Some gorgeous slow-motion shots – notable in the spine-tingling introduction which renders Brown a demi-god – set the scene for how seriously Meadows takes his responsibility as director.

Naturally, the new footage is interspersed with the band’s history, evoking not just nostalgia but the lingering sense of what could have been had contract wrangles not shackled the four at the height of their power.

Uttoxeter-born Meadows doesn’t foray too much into the uncertain territory of their downfall, but instead prefers to cosy-up for the ride.

This approach results in some spectacular scenes – the jam session in which ‘Waterfall’ is majestically and richly performed being a particular highlight.

Where Made of Stone stands out, however, is the excitable chaos around the free surprise comeback gig at Warrington Parr Hall – treated as a seminal moment in the narrative.

Meadows tracks scores of people dashing to queue up, with a couple of genuinely amusing explanations as to how they avoided work in order to realise something they, nor anyone else, thought would ever happen.

The resulting concert arguably eclipses the Heaton Park shows in terms of what it means to Meadows, referring to it as his Spike Island (the infamous outdoor concert in 1990 displaying the Roses at their zenith).

Not all the classics are heard, but he can be forgiven for delivering to the adoring legions more than just a glimpse into what made (and continues to make) them so revered.

Having begun with a monologue by Alfred Hitchcock defining his idea of happiness as ‘a clear horizon’, by the film’s conclusion those horizons should be as broad as they can be, for happiness is what Made of Stone manages to pass on.

Picture courtesy of FiberFib, with thanks.

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