Music

The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone

"Made of Stone is Shane Meadows' open love letter to the Stone Roses – but is it a resurrection or a history lesson?"

Ian Brown in Stone Roses: Made Of Stone

In a live Q&A after this Made of Stone premiere – hosted by a deeply reverential Edith Bowman – director Shane Meadows recounted the hilarious tale of how he missed out on the Stone Roses’ legendary Spike Island gig, because he gave his ticket away the night before whilst on acid.

As he readily explained, making this film was his chance to make up for that loss. So what results is effectively his open love letter to the band, which charts their comeback from the initial awkward press conference through to the mammoth gigs at Heaton Park last summer, where 30-odd cameras capture the band in fine form.

It’s a classy and well-crafted documentary, artfully including some fascinating archive footage

It’s a classy, humorous and well-crafted (if a touch long) documentary, artfully including some fascinating archive footage – the early studio sessions, their very first gig, teenagers Brown and Squire mucking about on Scooters.

Yet it’s striking how bygone seem the fashions and haircuts of the mid-1980s, and for me, this issue of timeliness is a sticking point with the whole reunion thing. If I may digress…

Some artists seem to transcend the scene that spawns them – by staying alive to their own creativity, by not resting on their laurels, by moving with the times. Witness Damon Albarn’s zeitgeist-surfing shifts, or PJ Harvey’s career of exploration, or Thom Yorke’s restless, questing energy. Even the original pop chameleon David Bowie is still springing surprises, and Dylan continues to knock out albums of high quality fifty years on.

What these artists have in common is ‘currency’ – however long or short in the tooth, they are being true to themselves, engaging with their muse as is.

Whereas the Stone Roses appear to be willfully staying in the past, reaching back to 25-year-old songs that were intrinsic to a time and a place – ‘Madchester!’ – that had a very defined shelf life.

Sure, what songs they are. The band’s debut is one of the greatest albums of all time (FACT), but where’s the creativity that produced such a record? Made of Stone ends with a performance of Fools Gold, and it’s thrilling. Yet these are past glories, being traded upon exclusively.

Of course, the four band members have every right to get together, and revive their unique chemistry to play those tunes – and thousands are very eager to encourage that. But does it work in 2013? Does it have currency? Not quite – not for me.

“The past was yours, but the future’s mine,” Ian Brown still sings. On the evidence of their ‘resurrection’ so far, the opposite would appear to be true. Super-fan Meadows may have intended to put The Stone Roses very much back in the here and now, but this loving and lovingly produced film further cements their place in history.

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