Top one, nice one, get sorted. Yes, all the creakiest melon-twisting Madchester clichés are rolled out for this gushing tribute to the heady summer of 1990, when The Stone Roses reigned supreme and north-west England was the centre of the musical universe. Manc teenagers Tits (Matthew McNulty) and Dodge (Nico Mirallegro) are our Ian Brown/John Squire substitutes, singer and guitarist in a jangly indie outfit called Shadowcaster. They’re desperate to get to the Roses’s era-defining gig on the titular Cheshire indutrial site, but family strife, girl troubles and a lack of funds all conspire to frustrate their plans.
All of which would be perfectly enjoyable if director Mat Whitecross and screenwriter Chris Coghill weren’t determined to stuff the film with every lazy coming-of-age cliché in the book. Tits has a sick parent, Dodge a hopeless crush, another character’s father wants him to join the military (a routine that was already laughable when Bill & Ted did it), and it’s all overlaid with the clunkiest would-be-poetic voiceover.
‘Spike Island’ has the music on its side: slap the closing solo from ‘I Am the Resurrection’ over just about anything, and you’ve got guaranteed uplift. Whitecross’s direction is distinctive and the cast do their best with limiting material. But from the daft nicknames to the naff period references, from the drippy central love story to the shameless plays for audience sympathy, none of this ever feels remotely honest or real.