Film review: The Stone Roses: Made of Stone - Shane Meadows presents a fan's eye view with mixed results


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"The Second Coming" would have been a better title for this documentary about the return of The Stone Roses, but they'd already used it for an album. 

Tickled to be the chosen chronicler of the band's momentous reunion in 2011, director Shane Meadows (This Is England) presents a fan's view of the story, which proves to be good news and bad. He loves the music, and conveys something of its headlong energy in both rehearsal and live settings. Just to hear the opening bass rumble of "I Wanna Be Adored" raised the hairs on the back of my neck.

But the film doesn't deal at all with the personal issues that split the band those years ago, avoids one-on-one interviews and skates over whatever tensions still lurk down deep. In this regard it's hard not to focus on the body language of John Squire, the band's co-founder, guitarist and sleeve-designer, who as recently as 2009 had professed a strong reluctance to "desecrate the grave" of the band by reuniting them.

As the most talented musician, with a separate career as an artist, Squire had the least to gain from it. Two years later he had changed his mind, claiming a renewal of friendship with Ian Brown, but the question is begged throughout.

Meadows is on hand to capture nice moments of the quartet rehearsing for their massive reunion gigs at Heaton Park (they would play to 220,000 people), and then loses his way in a long preamble with fans queueing for the free warm-up gig at Warrington's Parr Hall. You keep thinking: Focus please, Shane! The warm-up is a wonderful, sweaty thrash, and highlights the importance to their sound of drummer Reni, holding it all together with his brilliant timekeeping.

Even Liam Gallagher, with unwonted modesty, is moved to call them "the best band ever to come out of Manchester". The Heaton Park finale, by contrast, is rather wasted on a boring 15-minute version of "Fool's Gold". What, no "Elephant Stone" or "Where Angels Play" or "Ten Storey Love Song"? Made of Stone is a must for devotees; but it's not really what the world was waiting for.