“Don’t these times fill your eyes?”, asks Ian Brown in the chorus to the track from which Shane Meadows’s documentary takes its title. This triumphant documentary certainly does. It would have been easy to be cynical about the project when news of it first emerged. We have already seen the documentary about the band who “thought it would never happen” but then put personal differences aside to reform and conquer the world. The Blur documentary, ‘No Distance Left to Run’, is this documentary (and it’s excellent, incidentally).
But where ‘No Distance Left to Run’ focuses on Blur the band and their relationships with each other, ‘Made of Stone’ is (at the risk of sounding trite) all about the fans. That’s not to say it doesn’t look at the relationships (there’s some amazing archive footage of Brown and John Squire racing mopeds as kids) or the music (an extended live version of ‘Fool’s Gold’ is mesmerising and a rehearsal of ‘Waterfall’ is possibly the best scene in the film, which is saying something). But the main subject of Meadows’s documentary is the people for whom the Stone Roses meant everything.
A key moment occurs when the band offer tickets for an intimate warm-up gig in Warrington to the first people to arrive at the local box office. What follows is astonishing, as we see hordes of people drop what they’re doing and charge across the town’s previously quiet streets to get in line. One builder has abandoned a half-built house, an office worker has lied to his boss about a death in the family, and a father has bought his newborn baby to wait with him in the queue.
There’s something melancholy as well as brilliant about the accounts of these fans: most of whom have grown older with the band and are now in middle age. Looking at the footage of the Roses from the late 1980s, they clearly feel that they are invincible. On top of the world and at the top of their game, they can do anything and take on anyone. Their fans no doubt felt the same. Both are different now: older, with faded looks and fast-growing children, and perhaps a sense that they didn’t quite achieve what they might have done, that they weren’t invincible after all.
And that’s what makes this record of last year’s events so powerful. Meadows may have avoided asking his heroes the difficult questions, but that’s never what this was about. As the film builds to its climax at Heaton Park, he uses as a backdrop the Roses anthem, ‘This Is The One’. For the band and their fans (Meadows included), it couldn’t be more apt.