This documentary is a joyous celebration of the Stone Roses and their music. Director Shane Meadows is a self-proclaimed “ultimate fan” of the Manchester band. His documentary tries to capture the excitement their fans felt when hearing the group was getting back together for a tour in 2012, the first time in sixteen years. This is a film that would rather spend its time basking in the glow of their music, than rehashing some of the more sordid backstory that led to their break-up in the first place.
Before Brit Pop became a worldwide phenomenon on the music scene in the 1990s, the Stone Roses became an iconic band across the pond with their 1989 debut album. One of the most revered and influential bands in British music history despite releasing only two albums, the Stone Roses heavily influenced later British bands like Oasis and Blur. Led by guitarist John Squire and vocalist Ian Brown, they grew out of the Manchester music scene in the 1980s. With such songs as Waterfall, She Bangs The Drums and Fools Gold, they left a deep mark in the British consciousness. Issues with their label led to the delay of their second album and they eventually broke up over internal issues in the mid-90s.
In 2012, the Stone Roses re-formed for a new tour when Ian Brown and John Squire put their past history aside and decided to work together. This movies documents that process, beginning with the 2011 press conference announcing the tour. From there it moves to the early rehearsals held by the band, in preparation for their first live show to be held at Parr Hall, Warrington. Parr Hall was a surprise concert limited to 1000 select fans, including mega-fan Liam Gallagher of Oasis. The documentary seamlessly tells the history of the Stone Roses, interspersed with the ongoing narrative focus of their first concert in years. It culminates in their performance at Heaton Park in Manchester, in front of 220,000 adoring fans over three days.
If you love the Stone Roses and their music, Made of Stone feels like a re-introduction to an old friend you may not have seen in years. Meadows glosses over some of the bands’ personal failings and internal conflicts, instead preferring to let their music speak for itself. While we do get a number of complete musical performances from the group sounding as great as they ever did, the documentary does feel a bit lightweight in that department. This is not a hard-hitting exposé and it is not really a concert film. However, the narrative strangely works due to some judicious editing and great music. It provides that vital bit of nostalgia for the Stone Roses’ many fans.
The main feature is an amalgam of different film stocks and Hi-Def digital video, depending on the setting. Archival footage and still photographs help tell the early history of the Stone Roses, while black-and-white footage gives us a peek into the group rehearsing for their first gig in 2012. It’s only as the narrative shifts to their triumphant homecoming concerts at Manchester’s Heaton Park, that we get full-color, modern digital video. This Blu-ray is a solid attempt at capturing those disparate sources, reproducing them together without serious problem.
The AVC video encode averages a strong 29.87 Mbps, though some minor banding does creep into the picture at times. The 100-minute main feature is presented in 1080P and primarily in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Some stray aliasing shows up in the newer video footage. The newer video shots have excellent clarity and are extremely sharp. There isn’t a great deal of opportunity for extreme detail and resolution, the cinematography has a cinéma vérité feel to it that avoids tight close-ups.
One would not call this demo material but it definitely belongs on Blu-ray. Some sketchy archival footage looks rough in the beginning but overall has decent picture quality.
The entire documentary is built on the back of the Stone Roses’ small body of classic music. Made of Stone uses a mixture of 2012 concert appearances, some rehearsal footage, and actual album tracks. In a somewhat questionable move by MVD Visual, the main option is a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack at 640 kbps. The mix itself packs a punch with excellent depth and microdynamics, albeit largely confined to the front soundstage. Its thumping bass is well utilized and evenly balanced. Some minor ambient support is rare, outside of some crowd noise and other isolated examples. For some reason they did not provide the surround mix in lossless form, though the 2.0 Stereo PCM soundtrack is a fine alternative.
The music sounds great on Blu-ray, especially the rehearsal footage and newer concert appearances. A lossy presentation on Blu-ray is not ideal for music performances, but I don’t feel it impacts the fidelity to any degree in this case. No subtitles have been provided.
MVD Visual has loaded this Blu-ray with a number of critical special features, including bonus live performances from the Stone Roses’ 2012 tour.
Audio Commentary with director Shane Meadows and producer Mark Herbert – Both men love the Stone Roses and this commentary is a testament to their love. They also dish about the background for this movie and its genesis.
Behind The Scenes: Warrington Parr Hall (13:03 in HD) – Shane Meadows discusses how he’ll shoot the concert and some pre-show planning.
Locating The Rehearsal Venue (02:41 in HD) – An extension of footage from the movie in which Shane Meadows and the producer are driving in a car.
Shane’s Hallelujah Moment (05:29 in HD) – Rehearsal footage of the band working off some of the rust they had developed over the years.
Fan Phone Footage (00:25 in HD) – Ian Brown takes a quick clip of footage with a cellphone camera.
Trailer (02:21 in HD)
She Bangs The Drums at Fuji (03:51 in HD)
Shoot You Down at Parr Hall, Warrington (04:51 in HD)
I Wanna Be Adored (False Start) Rehearsals (13:33 in HD) – The band attempting to get their timing back, having to rehearse it over and over again with false starts.
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