The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone – UK film premiere
There’s an unmistakeable air of anticipation and excitement across Trafford tonight not unlike last year’s Warrington show. After having followed the Stone Roses reunion trail through the frenzy of Warrington, the fog of Amsterdam and the euphoria of Heaton Park, I was keen to see Shane Meadows’ attempt at making sense of it all tonight. I certainly couldn’t. Introduced to the Stone Roses’ debut album at the start of my teens, a love affair was born with not just their songs but the aesthetic, the attitude, the politics and that something greater than the sum of the parts that the Stone Roses are. Even so, nothing could prepare me for the scenes of devout fanaticism witnessed last summer. The word ‘fan’ carries awkward connotations of blind, misguided hero-worship; shuffling anoraked obsessives whose fandom often says more about themselves than the projection of their all consuming admirations. Tonight circling the Victoria Warehouse were scores of fans who fitted none of these stereotypes; these are ordinary people made passionate by a band who refused to show anything but extraordinary passion in all that they did. This said, there’s still something of an uneasiness at seeing something so pure and idealistic as the Stone Roses associated with red carpets, paparazzi and all the ensuing phoney glitz. Thankfully, this being the Stone Roses this was no lockjaw-popstar event of smiling and waving with B-listers and tabloid leeches.
The rain clouds which had threatened the South Manchester skyline throughout the day were beginning to dissolve into clearer skies as an eclectic mix of early punk, Trojan reggae, Motown and Stax soul as well as songs by the band themselves blare out across the red carpet. Touts outside are asking for £150 a ticket to the premiere, and even outside Cornerhouse back in town there’s reports of touts outside the cinema offering sums not usually associated with Thursday night film screenings.
One of the biggest cheers of the night goes to some of the first figures to enter the red carpet; a visibly overjoyed Shane Meadows, director of ‘Made of Stone’, with the film’s producer, a glowing Mark Herbert – Meadows making a beeline instantly for the large crowd pulsating around the carpet, many armed with ‘This is England’ DVD sleeves instead of Stone Roses memorabilia. Much of the ‘This is England’ cast make an appearance tonight including Thomas Turgoose (Shaun), Johnny Harris (Lol’s dad) and Andrew Shim (Milky). A steady stream of artists make their way down the red carpet, be it the impeccably dressed Richard Hawley, a beaming Guy Garvey or Liam Fray, who’ll spend much of tonight talking to the numerous Courteeners fans in attendance. Chris Morris, virtuoso satirist of Brass Eye fame, avoided the red carpet in typically Chris Morris fashion but was present at the bar later in the evening.
In 1989 the Stone Roses sang of their aspiration that ‘every Member of Parliament trips on glue’; tonight their premiere was attended by two Members of Parliament; Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham and Deputy Chairman of the same party Tom Watson. To their credit, both are huge music fans, Burnham has regularly professed his love for the Wedding Present and Watson’s Twitter feed is filled with YouTube links that depict a man with a genuine passion for music. Both have respectively championed profoundly important causes in Burnham’s campaigning for justice for the Hillsborough families whilst Watson stood as a lone voice in the Commons to press for the re-opening of an enquiry into paedophile rings operating in a previous Downing Street administration. Whilst Burnham was busy engulfed in conversation with Mick Jones about developments in the Hillsborough campaign, Watson spoke to me about the film and his own experiences of the Stone Roses’ concerts; “What I think Shane did was give a real insight into that entity that is the Stone Roses…a band with no single dominant figure, they all need each other. It feels like it was revelatory. I was at Heaton Park; I thought I was going to die of hypothermia. At the end of it my joints were aching and I felt old. In the film there was a woman who was slowly undressing, actually at the gig she was totally naked and I was about ten feet from her, so that’s what it was like”, adding “It was clearly a homage to the fans, he didn’t want to go for all the rows and the break-up, if you’re a fan you know that anyway, what you want is what its’ about – unashamedly loving the music, showing how they made their music, for me that was brilliant”.
As the thousand strong audience settles into the auditorium at Victoria Warehouse, there’s a great sense of anticipation regarding the film and a strong sense of event. There’s a lot of hugging and French-kissing in the aisles, as well as the startled handshakes from tongue tied Clash fans as a grinning Mick Jones takes his seat for the film. Speaking to Mick Jones afterwards, he’s enthusing over his memories of supporting the band in Lyon last summer and the “compliment” of having thousands of cushions thrown at the stage at the end of the Roses’ set – he’s incredibly impressed with a film that manages to capture that same era-defining spirit present in the Stone Roses as is attributed to the Clash.
The blissful 1970 Motown classic ‘Stoned Love’ is greeted by the first of tonight’s soaring cheers; the Supremes single that opened every gig on the reunion tour last year again begins proceedings tonight. Edith Bowman introduces producer Mark Herbert, who in turn introduces Shane Meadows, who provides a touching speech about dropping acid the night before the Stone Roses’ Spike Island gig leading him to give his ticket to a goth at a bonfire; the story of him running into Uttoxeter town centre the next morning only to find his mates had left for Spike Island a kitchen sink vision that could be straight out of one of his films (and probably will be in the forthcoming ‘This is England ’90’).
Then, the biggest applause of the night and an instant standing ovation; Ian Brown, John Squire and Mani step onto the stage. Raising a few eyebrows, Brown announces that Reni has had to stay at home due to a cold – prompting an instant response from a heckler of Brown’s now infamous line from the Amsterdam meltdown “the drummer’s a cunt”, to which he responds with great humour. Nobody is better equipped to introduce the film than the band themselves, and the outpouring of affection in the room sets the tone perfectly for Shane Meadows’ celebratory, triumphant film (LTW review).
At times during the film it’s hard to tell whether the roar of the crowd is from the cinematography or the audience in the room tonight; such is the exuberance with which the film is received. Initially it’s bemusing to be in a cinema screening with such audible rapture, and despite one or two beerier members of the audience tonight is a strangely euphoric and completely communal celebration of not just the triumph that is ‘Made of Stone’, but of a band who have now firmly cemented their return and plan to record new material later in the year, as John Squire confesses tonight. The Q&A after the film is insightful; Herbert and Meadows talk to Edith Bowman about the tireless work put in editing the film. 360 hours of footage were shot on the tour, and including the archive footage there was some 500 hours of material to plough through, meaning the initial Christmas 2012 deadline had to be extended to accommodate a film which was only finished just shy of a month ago.
As the auditorium swells into the bar at the back, and the bar tips into the afterparty, the night comes to a gradual close whilst the second screening takes place; a sold out screening full of equally excited Roses fans who receive the film with every ounce of the same delight. Tonight has affirmed everything that was hoped for when the Stone Roses announced their reformation in October 2011; a send off perfect for a band now straight off to Paris to warm-up for massive London and Glasgow dates.