Director: David Soutar
I don’t suppose that many of the Massive were Brosettes in their youth, which is a shame. Not because of the music, mercifully little of which appears in this jaw-dropping programme, but because it might mean that you have missed out on one of the TV highlights of the year. Fear not, it’s on iPlayer, which is where I saw it during the dire Christmas Day TV schedules after seeing what a stir it was creating on Twitter.
For those of you who have managed to suppress the memory, twin brothers Luke (drums) and Matt (vocals) were the heart of one of the biggest boy bands of the 80s. They went their separate ways, and although they have adapted to the ageing process in very different styles they are of course still twins. To help you tell which is which it might be useful to remember that Matt is the one with the rug. Now they are to reunite for a show at the O2 and the cameras are in tow, presenting documentary footage without narration nor captions, leaving the brothers’ words and actions to tell the story.
These days both live in California. Luke makes his living in movies but still feels the call of home. ‘I’m a London boy … Big Ben … the Embankment … cab drivers’ and keeps himself grounded with some home spun philosophy. ‘Find a place of authenticity as soon as you can, because otherwise you’ll always be the person you created’, muses Swami Luke. Matt is still in music, performing residencies, apparently very successfully, in Vegas casinos. ‘Home is where I’m working’, philosophises Luke, ‘Those four letters H O M E personify the word ‘home’’ reckons Matt.
For all that Matt is the more homely of the two, you can’t help but notice that Luke has his wife in Britain for support during preparation for the show, while Matt seems to be taking on a challenging situation alone, even arriving at the rehearsals after Luke has already bedded in with the band. Matt also seems to be the more fretful brother, staying awake brooding on arguments despite thinking a positive thought as he ties a bandana around his head each night and pulling it down to wear around his neck the next day.
We get a basic introduction to their rise to success, including a run down of proposed names. ‘We had Eppy-Tome [Epitome] which I believe is Latin for abstract’, explains Matt. And some back to their roots stuff when they revisit childhood homes. A particular Joy is Luke, marginally but crucially the smarter of the two, staring at Matt as reminiscence gives way to a rant about health and safety. ‘Can we start a petition? That is the biggest problem in England! You can’t play conkers in England!!’ ‘I can live with that.’
There is a mass of rehearsal footage as well of course, where decades of passive aggression, reflexive swearing and outright hostility meet in squabbles over arrangements (‘You do the arrangements, I’ll be in the other room – just two f*@&ing bars earlier…’) and pyrotechnics (real versus projected ‘it’s not a problem, really’). It’s the Troggs fairy dust tapes, meets Let It Be, meets Tufnell and St Hubbins in a London rehearsal studio. The fallout to that one carries on to the next day as they bicker in the green room of Good Morning Britain, apparently oblivious to the cameras catching every word.
As the day of the gig gets closer the pressure starts to show. ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’, says Luke, ‘And f£&# me that’s true … but we don’t have the time that Rome had.’ The crisis in rehearsal is intercut with footage of and reflections on the breakup of Bros, and the point is made that their difficulties are based on a repeating and well rehearsed pattern of pain. Typically it is Luke who sees that the emotion of their mutual, still raw grief for their mother could work to their advantage on stage and finally pull them closer.
Of course the show culminates with the O2 show, where patient fans will eventually be rewarded with an extended clip of their best known When Will I Be Famous?, performed to a rapturous crowd who have waited more than two decades for that moment. Matt reflects that the two men are two worlds colliding, resulting in ‘Destruction and the genesis of a new beginning.’ As you were Luke, as you were.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
Spinal Tap, family conflict