photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
THE STONE ROSES: MADE OF STONE (WARP FILMS, 2013) documentary is a INTRIGUING cultural artifact of sorts as it presents an insider's view of the LEGENDARY MANCHESTER ALTERNATIVE ROCK band's reunion in the early 2010s after nearly 15 years apart. in the history of BRITISH music, THE STONE ROSES were a bit of a TRANSITIONAL band between INDIE scene of the 1980s and what would become BRITPOP, especially as it relates to fellow MANCUNIANS in OASIS. LIAM GALLAGHER's brief cameo backstage at the first reunion finds him adamantly attesting that THE STONE ROSES are the greatest MANCHESTER band ever (which is saying something given that THE SMITHS, BUZZCOCKS, JOY DIVISION / NEW ORDER and THE FALL are from the northern city as well). their initial fall is the stuff of ROCK AND ROLL cliche, given that fighting their label and then management inevitably manifested in them turning on each other as well during the recording of their second album. for a brief SHINING moment in the early 1990s, especially their CELEBRATED gig at SPIKE ISLAND, the band was on top of the BRITISH music world and critical darling abroad in AMERICA. they basically set the table for OASIS, no question about it.
for me the most interesting part of this documentary is not the capstone 2012 performance footage of the band at HEATON PARK in MANCHESTER (mirroring their SPIKE ISLAND gig), but rather the more INTIMATE coverage of their initial rehearsals at remote home in WARRINGTON. it was during this rehearsal footage that you very much got a sense of the MUSICAL CONNECTION between the four players with all the unspoken nods, looks and grins that come with long embedded musical cues that manifest themselves physically and psychically with past compositions played to perfection in the present. the ENERGY is palpable. its that special ALCHEMY that only GIFTED musicians with a strong musical bond and chemistry bring to the table, which for the listener is nothing less than pure MAGIC. case in point is their rehearsal performance of "WATERFALLS." watching it you could feel their MUTUAL EXCITEMENT and ELATION.
i like to view that core SPARK as the central feature of this documentary. seeing how it ebbs and flows when outsiders and hangers-on and even technical difficulties come into the picture, such as their disastrous warm-up gig in AMSTERDAM when the drummer departed the gig pre-encore. this mirrored his similarly SPONTANEOUS departure from the band more than a decade before, spurring their demise as a band and creative entity. such would ultimately be the case a few years later when the band split again. i feel that just like JANE'S ADDICTION, these long stretches of indefinite hiatuses only make the inevitable reunion that much more POTENT and SPECIAL. my hope is that they do so with some shows stateside next go around.
they are definitely a SEMINAL band well worth checking out. IAN BROWN is a CHARISMATIC, ICONIC frontman and a BRITISH original. here's hoping they figure it all out again.