Made Of Love

(I’m in this shot at Parr Hall, somewhere slightly right and above of Ian Brown’s hand. You might be able to spot me, the one with his arms in the air.)

I went to see Shane Meadows’ film of The Stone Roses re-union on Thursday night. Meadows has himself described it as a love-letter to the band and it’s hard to disagree. It’s very, very well done, and fantastically put together. The standout moment for me was the section in the middle showing the gig at Warrington’s Parr Hall on 22nd of May last year- the footage of band and audience is incredible, gave me goosebumps in fact- and the clips of people running to try to get wristbands are very funny. One man being persued by a small daughter struggling to keep up with him shouting ‘go on Dad!’ is brilliant. There is some fascinating footage c.1982 of Ian and John on scooter rallies and some highly amusing interview footage from 1989 (some of which has been doing the bootleg/Youtube rounds for twenty years). There is a wonderful bit of the band rehearsing Waterfall in a farmhouse somewhere in Cheshire, with split screen segments showing each man playing. It is incredible and should scotch the view that Ian can’t sing (and the version of Waterfall played needs to be released as a soundtrack or ripped from the dvd when it gets released). The film isn’t a total love-in either- tensions are shown when Reni sets the internet ablaze with rumours that he’s quit. Shane is following the band round a short European tour culminating in the gig in Amsterdam where Reni throws a strop due to malfunctioning gear and refuses to play the encore, disappearing into a people carrier. Ian takes to the stage to tell the crowd there’ll be no encore and, in what could possibly not be described as tactful, informs the crowd ‘what can I say? The drummer’s a cunt’.

The climax is Heaton Park, the last fifteen minutes of the film- shot with multiple cameras the band swagger through a ten minute version of Fool’s Gold, John Squire’s guitar playing really does have to be seen and heard to be believed, Reni and Mani proving their worth as the funkiest indie-rock rhythm section and Ian walking out to the front row of the crowd, pressing flesh, borrowing a lad’s camera phone to snap them and him, and generally being adored. Interspersed with the shots of the band are some helicopter shots of Heaton Park and some incredible footage of the crowd- a man on top of an ice cream van, people dancing, a teenage boy on someone’s shoulders, a couple snogging, a girl twirling her shirt round her head. It’s beautifully filmed and incredibly dramatic and puts The Roses right there, centre stage, as the best band of their generation.

If you don’t like them, or weren’t that fussed first time around, you probably won’t find much here- haters gonna hate after all. But this is genuinely a brilliant piece of film making, about a man in love with a band (and many other men like him, and a lot of women too- I never really got why The Stone Roses have been portrayed as such a ‘lad’s band’, they always seemed to have a huge female following), a man in love with a band who soundtracked his and our youth and are soundtracking his and our middle age too.

Previously Unheard Backwards Track 3

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Warrington Parr Hall

I got in from work yesterday and opened my emails. One read- ‘The Stone Roses are playing a free concert tonight at Warrington Parr Hall (capacity 760). Wristbands for the concert are available from the box office from 4.00pm to people bringing a record sleeve, cd inlay or band T-shirt.’

Nayayers should suspend their cynicism or stop reading at this point.

At 8.40pm I was standing in the rapidly filling Parr Hall, an old concert venue with a high stage and a seated balcony round three sides. I have never been to a gig where there was such an air of unexpected excitement. The presence of Cressa and John Robb and various other faces, and crew with Roses wristbands, making it clear this was actually going to happen. The bass speaker stacks were topped off with a collection of Toby jugs. At 9.30 four Stone Roses took the stage, Reni included (despite recent internet rumours). I Wanna Be Adored, Mersey Paradise, Sally Cinnamon, Made Of Stone, Sugar Spun Sister, Where Angels Play, Shoot You Down, Tightrope, Waterfall, She Bangs The Drums, Love Spreads (with a slightly ill advised Ian Brown rap at the end, Paid In Full). Mani grinning throughout, Ian Brown bouncing round the stage, Squire playing those guitar lines, the crowd drowning out the band at times. The love and energy from the crowd was stunning; the only non-smiley note all night was Liam Gallagher’s arrival on the balcony to boos and jeers. All those late 80s truisms about positivity, and the band and the crowd are the same, and we’re all on the same side, flooding back briefly. It’s still The Roses- if you want pitch perfect recreations of songs, go and watch Adele. But it’s beautiful from where I was standing. I’m still not entirely convinced it actually happened, despite my croaky voice and sweaty wristband.

At 10.25 they finished, hugging each other stage front, standing hand-in-hand and arms in the air, taking a bow and then off (‘We’ll be back’ Ian said, though not tonight), and after a few minutes of milling around before we were sure there wasn’t an encore, we were spewed into Warrington’s now chilly streets, middle aged men and women who’d just seen something they could only remember and dream about, teenagers who’ve just seen something they could only previously read about.

You’ll have to forgive the fanboy enthusiasm folks- my 21st century world weariness may return tomorrow, but right now I can say ‘Warrington Parr Hall- I was there’.