19 June 2013

Spike Island Review

This one could not have come along at a better time. The Stone Roses' return to the music scene last year, followed up by gigs in London a little over a week ago, and Shane Meadows' eulogizing love letter-cum-documentary, has seen interest in the band at its highest in decades.

Not since they signed off with a Reading festival set so dire that it has since assumed the status of arguably the worst live performance of any Manchester band, have The Roses been so bloody prevalent. There's a palpable wave of goodwill for Spike Island to surf, which can only help its chance of finding an audience beyond devotes of the baggy quartet.

Mat Whitecross' tale of youthful abandon centres around The Roses' 1990 gig at Spike Island (near Widnes), a show which may even have attained an even greater mythical standing than the aforementioned palava, and a young band's desperate attempts to ensure they are involved in the fun and games.

Young Tits (Elliott Tittensor) and his bands mates, the venerable Shadowcastre, are having a right time of it kicking about their Manchester estate. School's a drag and life at home ain't much better for the gang, a preposterously named bunch of mononymous toe-rags, sporting monikers that wouldn't sound out of place amongst the well-thumbed pages of The Beano; Dodge is on rhythm guitar and Zippy the drums, leaving Penfold to assume the role of poor-man's Bez.

The boys idolise the The Stone Roses and will stop at nothing to crash their upcoming gig and make forge a reputation for themselves.

It's a coming-of-age, right-of-passage tale which certainly packs enough youthful energy to keep the show rolling along, even if it times it feels as if the script may have been cribbed from a copy of the Mancunian Book of Cliches.

The dialogue frequently descends into extended bursts of Manc patois but it's a good-as-gold tale of working class, northern ecentricity and music. Which in itself is no bad thing, but all this swaggering and floppy hair might not translate south of Crewe.

At times the the drudgery and domestic strife feels laboured and unwelcome, but at it's heart it's a film about the music; a story with a rock and roll sentiment, which should render it palatable for anyone with anything approaching an interest in great British music.

★★★☆☆

Chris Banks

Rating: 15
Release Date: 21st June 2013 (UK)
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