The Stone Roses, in the very late 1980’s rose to fame and acclaim initially slowly then, Boom, they were huge. World conquering mysterious maestros. Initially I never got the band, but initially I hadn’t heard them too. I can recall the build up to the bands August ’89 Empress Ballroom – Blackpool Gig, almost solely on word of mouth and thinking ‘what is going on there?’. Then – the inevitable happened. I heard the debut album. Not many records have that kind of impact. Generational musical affirmation and way beyond.
‘The Stone Roses’ – by The Stone Roses is easily one of the 5 best albums I have ever heard – or am likely to ever hear. Full of classic, timeless music, it was glued to my turntable for months in the Summer of 1989. Then, they released Fools Gold and people actually couldn’t take in the fact that they’d, somehow, raised the bar ever higher. There was an explosion musically and the only bad thing to come from that scene was bands like The Farm suddenly becoming huge too. Everyone that was into that scene knew who the real maestros were. They still do.
The Stone Roses could be allowed to tread water with their next single One Love / Something’s Burning. Then. They just disappeared. It would be another 4 years before The Second Coming and a lot changed on the musical horizon in that time. Truth was, people missed a band they simply loved.
As the opening chimes of Breaking Into Heaven teased for a seeming eternity the gradual realisation that the magic was slightly missing presented itself to fans in immediate denial. The Second Coming, despite still being one of the better albums from 1994 was nowhere near the same league as the band’s debut long player. Then Reni quit and the inevitable happened soon after. The only time I have seen The Stone Roses live they had a drummer from Simply Red in the band yet they still were amazing live. You do not get that kind of euphoria at almost any gig.
In 2012 The Stone Roses reformed. The important part was it was Ian Brown. John Squire. Reni & Mani again (not the actual original line-up, but the only one that mattered). Tickets sold like proverbial hot cakes. 220,000 in quarter of an hour for 2 gigs at Heaton Park, Manchester. Shane Meadows of This Is England near fame was invited to film the band for almost a year. Social Media went into temporary meltdown and the news was huge. Only an impossible Beatles reformation could top this despite the Stone Roses relative slimmer back catalogue.
Watching the film last night at The Electric Cinema in Birmingham three waves of goosebumps went through me as the movie rolled. I know little about Shane Meadows but the love portrayed for the band, and indeed by the band is something that you seldom get in a music documentary / film. Two of these waves of goosebumps were induced by the music, the other by a fan speaking frankly, openly and simply about his love for the band. The bond between the band is deep and music press (and just press) columns about rock n’ roll differences just go out of the window. What the viewer is allowed access to view and hear in incredible musical intimacy is the kind of kinship only found in close bonds / circles of friends. The nods between Reni and Ian Brown as they rehearse Waterfall tell you things words cannot. Squire is more distant but his eyes tell you this is his real home. Mani is comedy genius and clearly loves playing with old band mates. Frantically and deeply he plays the bass like an untamed beast – the sound is different to the 1989 album but when Squire lets the guitar fly in ways it sounds momentarily – impossibly – even better.
I will not include any spoilers. Just go and catch the movie. At the cinema. Really do. I’ll let you see for yourself the sheer joy of letting the Warrington secret gig scenes unfold. As Lil Louis’s French Kiss builds the venue is taken into the kind of reverence that music can seldom achieve. Meadows goes beyond rockumentary and the drama and joy takes cinema to a very rare place. Fan of the band or not the intimacy feels close yet never too creepily close. The band reveal a kinship and rather than just people reliving their youths something deeper and life affirmingly strong prevails. The Stone Roses never drop their cocksure attitude but a beautiful fallibility comes through. They know where they are at and give a lot back. Cinema and documenting music occasions shouldn’t work this well – Made Of Stone is quite glorious…