In his fiction films, ‘This Is England’ and ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ writer-director Shane Meadows walks a fine line between Ken Loach-style social realism and dark-edged nostalgic fantasy. He’s pulled the same trick with his first doc, which falls between the studied sanctimony of a Martin Scorsese classic rock doc and the fashionable blood-on-the-walls tone of a behind-the-music confessional. It’s a heartfelt, ragged-edged love letter to The Stone Roses, Manchester’s favourite sons, which doesn’t ignore the band’s legendary penchant for self-destruction but also refuses to get bogged down in it.
A lifelong fan, Meadows was invited by singer Ian Brown to document the band’s 2012 reunion tour, and the result feels more like a Shane Meadows film than you’d ever expect. From the exhilarating unbroken opening shot – Brown glad-hands the crowd at Heaton Park while Alfred Hitchcock waxes lyrical on the voiceover about the joys of creative freedom – through a 20-minute sequence of giddy, unguarded fan vox pops to the director’s own goofy, overexcited presence (‘This one’s going straight in the scrapbook,’ he grins on finding a note from drummer Reni), this has all the warmth, wit and honesty of ‘TwentyFourSeven’ or ‘A Room for Romeo Brass’. In many ways, it’s a standard rockumentary, with its live footage, backstage clowning, wistful voiceovers and tons of helicopter shots. But it’s also a hymn to creativity and collaboration, and a thrilling, unabashed celebration of the power of music.