Made Of Stone

This isn't the one...

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This isn’t the one…

Made Of Stone follows the Stone Roses from their reunion in October 2011 to their three homecoming shows at Heaton Park in June the following year. Its release coincides with the band’s two shows at Finsbury Park in London – while in three weeks’ time, cinema audiences can also watch Spike Island, a coming-of-age drama set against the backdrop of the band’s famous May, 1990 show. In the absence of – so far – any new music from the reunited Roses, Made Of Stone and Spike Island act as surrogates in some way – the only existing ‘fresh’ material connected to the band in any medium.

As filmed by Shane Meadows, Made Of Stone is a fudge between fly-on-the-wall doc, concert film and archival trawl. Meadows – a fan, who has described his film as “a love letter” to the Roses – is not a natural documentarian. After trailing the Roses round the October 18 press conference called to announce the end of their 15-year split, he sets up his cameras at a house outside Warrington, where the band are beginning tour rehearsals. The footage of the band learning to play together again is the best stuff here – the focus very much on Reni, whose loose-limbed drumming and warm, playful humour makes him the natural star.

In a narrative lurch, we decamp to Warrington’s Parr Hall, where Meadows spends an age on the build-up to the band’s secret comeback gig. Meadows films punters running down the road to the venue – will they, won’t they get a ticket..? It would arguably be more instructive to know what the band themselves were doing at this point: were they all together, apart, were they nervous, excited..? The film similarly fails to successfully address the events at the show in Amsterdam, where Reni disappeared before the encore and Ian Brown called him a “cunt” onstage. The band do not offer comment; but nor does Meadows pursue any line of inquiry. In fact, the Roses themselves are distant throughout. Interviewed only in voiceover, where they briskly narrate their backstory over archive footage, there’s no formal meeting with Meadows to discuss the ongoing process of reunion. Among many of Meadows open goals is the sight on the word ‘NEWIE’ written on a blackboard containing all the band’s songs that stands in the Warrington rehearsal house. Surely, this is a new song? If only Meadows had asked them about it. Ah…

It’s easy to see how Meadows passion for the Roses has clouded his editorial judgment, but it leaves the film lacking in many respects. A terrific opening shot – of Brown in slow motion walking in the gully between the stage and the crash barriers at Heaton Park, overlaid by a voice recording of Alfred Hitchcock talking about creativity – and some admittedly excellent footage at the end of the band playing “Fool’s Gold”, driven by John Squire‘s mesmerising guitar lines, are as good as it gets. Shame there isn’t more in the middle.

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Peter Gabriel, Michael Stipe, The Flaming Lips, Tim Buckley, David Bowie, Archie Shepp, Jonathan Richman, Mary Chapin Carpenter and The Rolling Stones