Following the release of the eponymous Album and their iconic Spike Island gig back in 1990 The Stone Roses had the world at their feet. Their sudden break up in 1996 shocked fans and left many wondering if they would ever see this once great band back on stage again. Thankfully fans prayers were answered in 2012 when the band announced their reformation alongside two comeback gigs both of which were set to take place at Manchester’s Heaton Park. Shane Meadow’s documentary follows the band from the press conference to their first gig.
The film opens with Hitchcock’s famous definition of happiness as Ian Brown walks along the front of the stage greeting the excited fans. This scene is beautifully shot and I thought I was in for a treat.
Following the opening credits Meadows takes us to a secret house where the band would be rehearsing. It’s during this time that Meadows describes the band as his “all time favourite” and whilst this may be evident throughout the movie, it’s also proves to be the movies downfall. Meadows seems so preoccupied with how happy he is that they’ve reformed that he seems to have forgotten to make a movie. We are giving lots of footage of the band chatting and rehearsing but not a lot of anything else. Meadows has been given access many directors would relish and wastes it.
Most of the film is made up of old footage; Meadows clearly spent too much time in the editing room and not enough time making a documentary. The past clips do allow us an insight into how the band has grown, though this is little that couldn’t be learnt elsewhere. New footage of the band post 1996 makes about 10% of the movie with the only interview in the opening hour of the movie being with Meadows himself. At first I thought it was due to the reluctance of the band but there is a short segment where the members talk about the initial break up. Here we have loquacious, witty and honest gentleman. Meadows does not utilise this.
We later see interviews with fans who have just got wristbands for a secret warm-up gig in Warrington. Almost every interview is each of them saying “I saw them such and such years ago and now I’m seeing them again.” One eloquent fan does talk about their importance in the music world, which was pleasant to hear. I wasn’t sure if I was watching a The Stone Roses Live DVD or a documentary about the fans, but I had paid to see a Roses documentary.
There Are No Innocent Bystanders is a documentary that follows The Libertines. Starting with the announcement of a reunion and the lead up to the first gig. Despite reading everything I possibly could about The Libertines it still gave me a new insight into the band. It is moving, revealing and informative. That is what I want from a band documentary.
Verdict: Hardly bearable; it’s a good job I enjoy their music. Watch Blood On The Turntable. It features much more relevant talking heads and interviews with the band. Thus providing an interesting look at The Stone Roses.