The idea that one day the story of music icon Alan McGee might get its own big screen adaptation might have seemed insane not long ago, but here we are. Sure, it is on the small screen thanks to the fvcking pandemic, but still, it is a big shiny look at one of the most interesting and important characters in the industry and that will always be welcome, as will the pairing of Ewen Bremner (the iconic Spud in Trainspotting) and Irvine Welsh behind the typewriter, producing some sharp and hilarious words as is his way.
At the early stages of this film, you will begin to get a supreme sense of deja vu. I genuinely thought that I had seen it before, before remembering this only came out this week, what I had in fact seen, many many times, was Velvet Goldmine, which the first quarter of an hour tells a similar tale. A young glam boy, played brilliantly by Leo Flanagan whose meagre CV features Waterloo Road and Doctor Who, but if his performance here is anything to go by is headed for big things, follows David Bowie and T Rex and lives for the tiny moments of hope he sees on the TV. The Velvet Goldmine moment of Bowie on TOTP is aped here by The Sex Pistols footage we have seen a million times but by Flanagan’s reaction, you can feel the burn of this music etching itself on McGee’s soul. There’s some joyous footage of McGee and his friend Bobby (…) and you can feel the magic of those moments in a record store when you just feel…at home.
As McGee grows, we fall further into Trainspotting territory and follow the Creation story through the clubs and the pubs and the drugs and see the moments when McGee seems to be in the right place at the right time. It will be interesting to see how non-music fans react to the making of Screamadelica and Loveless, but for those of us in the know, there are many moments of laughter and breathlessness. This is when the film is at its best, when McGee is in the trenches and the toilets and the house parties, it is brilliant.
Then…Oasis. You do cheer at Alan getting into the big bucks and it all feels deserved, but the film itself takes a downward turn. Suddenly instead of the tale of Alan going to catch 18 Wheeler, you push into a British sitcom section, where various politicians pop up and everything suddenly becomes like Spitting Image, these scenes all seem forced – yes, we remember McGee going to meet Tony Blair, you don’t need to have a big comedic scene about it, I’d rather see him hanging at a Super Furry Animals gig, but maybe that is just me.
Also on the down side, there is a huge section where McGee gives up the drinks and the drugs and goes to rehab – in real life, good for him, in the cinema, not so much. Again, with the Welsh connections, you are expecting him just to disappear through the bed, Trainspotting remains so iconic, that seeing a version where he just goes to see his psychiatrist is…underwhelming.
It’s annoying because I cannot help but think there is a five star movie hiding inside here, take out the psychoanalysis and the Private Eye politics and add in the rebirth of McGee with Poptones, the home of Special Needs, The Others and Thee Unstrung, (boy, there is a movie there all its own) and you could have an essential rock and roll tale, rather than the enjoyable but flawed Creation Stories. Having said that Bremner is excellent, the soundtrack is superb, obvs and it sent me back to some classic records and reminded me of many of my own super rock and rock moments so I DO recommend it for 100 minutes of rock n roll fun.
Creation Stories is available via Sky Movies or Now