There’s nothing more entertaining than a rock ‘n’ roll biopic, whether cribbed from the pages of greatly exaggerated memoirs or an autobiography that reveals what really went on when the curtain came down.
Creation Stories – co-written by Irvine Welsh and with Danny Boyle as a producer – is the latest of these overblown retellings of a piece of musical history, and while not quite as epic as Rocketman, it’s thankfully not quite as bad as Bohemian Rhapsody. The film takes the focus off the musicians this time, and instead focuses it on the famous Nineties music manager and co-founder of Creation Records, Alan McGee, and a rags to riches story that sees him go from his working class home to Glasgow to the heights pinnacle of Britpop, via industrial drug consumption and a stint at rehab.
The film – adapted from McGee’s autobiography– is mostly set in the glory years of the mid-Nineties, when the biggest band McGee discovered, Oasis, are in the midst of their stratospheric rise. But their fame comes at a time when McGee is struggling with all the trappings of his own fame: fake hangers on, corporate arseholes and the trauma of a difficult childhood. And that’s even before a grinning Tony Blair appears, desperate to add a bit of coolness to the New Labour campaign.
Creation Stories, directed by Nick Moran, is obviously heavily influenced by another seminal retelling of music myths and legends, 24 Hour Party People, and just like the Steve Coogan-fronted film, this movie is also packed with a roster of star impressions and music and acting world cameos. If you can’t quite place where you’ve seen Malcolm McClaren, Bobby Gillespie or even the promoter at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut before, then this should help clear things up.
Alan McGee, played by Ewan Bremner
The links with Trainspotting – one of British cinema’s biggest indie hits, breaking through at the same time as the Creation success story – are strongly forged from the start with the casting of Alan McGee, referred to as “that ginger c**t from Glasgow”, as Ewan Bremner. Bremner doesn’t have to veer too far from his previous role of Spud, a drug-addled, manic chancer, to play McGee, also a drug-addled, manic chancer. The pace of McGee’s chat throughout the film is not unlike being cornered at a party by someone charging through a bag of music industry dust – utterly fatiguing. Just like McGee halfway through his career, Bremner probably also needed an extended lie-down in a silent room after filming Creation Stories.
Bobby Gillespie, played by Joseph Marshall
The Screamadelica star and McGee go way back to their days as teens in Glasgow, which is what cemented Primal Scream and Creation Records right from the start. Marshall was previously seen in another music biopic, Control, the story of Ian Curtis and Joy Division, and gives Gillespie his famous psychedelic edge in this film too.
Liam Gallager, played by Leo Harvey-Elledge, and Noel, played by James McClelland
The casting directors chose up-and-coming actors Harvey Elledge, 18, and McClelland, 34, for the roles of the swaggering monobrowed brothers. While they don’t actually get that much airtime in the film – McGee was ironically in rehab by the time the band broke through – McClelland said that they were still mad fer their parts in the music history flick, and told the BBC: “It's a gift as an actor”. Or, translated into Gallagher-ese: “Let’s fookin’ ‘av it”.
Malcolm McLaren, played by Nick Moran
As Hitchcock himself knew, every good director can’t resist the lure of a little cameo in their own films, and Moran – of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – gave himself a little screen time. He camps up to play Malcolm McLaren, the Sex Pistols manager, and one of McGee’s mentors, while the film’s writer, Irvine Welsh, also steps into a blink-and-you’ll miss-it appearance as Titch.
Jimmy Savile, played by Alastair McGowan
It takes a brave actor to take on the role of the UK’s most notorious paedophile, but impressionist master McGowan stepped up to help tell the story of one of the strangest events in McGee’s career – the time he went for dinner at Chequers with the Blairs, Judi Dench...and Savile. Creepy doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Alastair Campbell, played by Ed Byrne, and Peter “Mandy” Mandelson, played by Joseph Millson
These politicos are charged with bringing McGee fully into the New Labour camp, but it’s obvious from the start that the spin doctors plan to rinse McGee for all his cool credentials for the campaign. Comedian Ed Byrne gives a star turn as Campbell – and is also pictured rocking out to D:Ream – while Mandelson reveals himself just as out of touch when he congratulates McGee on the success of “The Oasis and The Blur”. Cringe-inducing, and this is just the re-enactment.
Tony Blair, played by James Payton
McGee hitched his wagon – and many of the Cool Britannia bands – to New Labour, after being courted by party insiders to help them secure their 1997 election victory. Are there prosthetics involved in former Harry Potter star James Payton’s grotesque and simpering version of Blair? Quite possibly.
Dick Green, played by Thomas Turgoose, and Joe Foster, played by Michael Socha
Green and Foster were the other two co-founders of Creation; Green being the geeky business partner, and Foster – AKA Slaughter Joe – a producer and punk musician. The roles were filled by two other legendary British actors, This Is England’s Thomas Turgoose (almost unrecognisable in a dodgy wig and Deidre Barlow specs) and his castmate in the Shane Meadows opus, Michael Socha.
Aleister Crowley, played by Steven Berkoff
Pulling out the big guns for one of McGee’s drug-induced hallucinations, the acclaimed actor and playwright Steven Berkoff became the British mystical occultist, as McGee credits him as a big influence. Fun fact: this is the second time in screen history that Berkoff has played Crowley, as he also appeared as him in a 2002 TV series called Masters of Darkness. Cosmic.
Other little cameos include other Lock Stock alumni, Jason Flemyng, as the King Tut’s promoter; Carl Barat as Griff, an Eighties punk; Paul Kaye as a sleazy A&R man and Liam and Noel’s actual brother, Paul Gallagher, as a pub landlord.
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