I’ll always remember the first time I listened to era-defining albums such as My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, as many others will, given their influence and importance. Without Alan McGee, one of Scotland’s great musical icons, they may not have had the impact they did, and the landscape of popular music may have been very different. He discovered so many great era-defining bands, so his story is ripe for feature film treatment, especially considering the legendary status of some of the stories associated with him.
Director Nick Moran’s OTT, at times hilarious and riotously fun movie hits a lot of the right notes, but lacks a little something in delivery. Ewen Bremner plays McGee with an energy and glee that pops from the screen, as he goes from new wave band member wannabe to finding his place by founding Creation Records. The film is at pains to portray McGee’s rebel status, and becomes both a celebration of the rock n’ roll lifestyle and a cautionary tale when the wheels come off and he finds his way to rehab. It often reminds me of 24 Hour Party People, the tale of Tony Wilson and Factory Records, and is similarly fast moving and knowingly humorous.
The sights and sounds of Glasgow town centre are present, and the film does a good job of giving the viewer a sense of the city at that time. Some of the classic stories, such as McGee discovering Oasis at King Tut’s and his encounter with Peter Mandelson, are lovingly recreated. The film certainly has some money behind it, and through this is able to create an immersive portrait of McGee and the city.
However, I found the writing lacks a little when it comes to getting a full sense of the man. At times he appears two dimensional and cartoonish, bolstered by the films at times surrealistic, psychedelic visuals that go for a 90s Trainspotting-style vibe. Despite Bremner’s charm, his performance and the approach of the film are at times too OTT, and distract from the riveting story written by Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh.
Still, if you’re looking for a frantically-paced, 90s music nostalgia-fest that tells a tale more than worth telling of a Scottish music legend, Creation Stories is a good bet.