Anyone Can Play Guitar Documentary

Oxford’s Musical Lineage
Anyone Can Play Guitar
Although the most famous music scenes of recent music history revolve around Manchester and Seattle, Oxford has provided more notable bands that one would expect from a city with a population around the 150,000 mark.

Narrated by Stewart Lee, the likes of Radiohead, Supergrass, Foals and Ride will prove to be the main attractions for Jon Spira’s debut documentary but it’s the city’s also-rans and cult favourites that provide much of the film’s soul. Spira takes a streamlined approach to unearthing the history of the local scene, using contemporary interviews, retro footage and a consistently engaging soundtrack to address Oxford’s musical lineage.

It’s hardly the most radical approach to documentary making, but it works so well – from Ed O’Brien’s evident love of the bands that preceded Radiohead to Dustball’s Jamie Stuart’s mixed opinions on local indie label Shifty Disco, Spira’s 300 hours of interview footage has uncovered a story both insightful and truly funny.

Given the breadth of the bands involved, there’s a huge range of emotions on display: Talulah Gosh’s Amelia Fletcher looks back fondly on the early days of the band, but others seem visibly haunted by their various close brushes with stardom.

Beyond the bands (also including, to name but a few, Swervedriver and Unbelievable Truth), Oxford’s story is given further depth by examining the other key players (local promoter Mac, journalist Ronan Munro, Shifty Disco’s Dave Newton) and the history of The Zodiac and Jericho Tavern venues.

Completed on a shoestring, the film’s lack of budget occasionally shows – the resolution sometimes isn’t as sharp as it could be, the sound very sporadically lacks clarity – but it’s hard to find fault with what is clearly a labour of love for Spira. Sure, it would’ve been nice to seen more of the legendary Mac given that almost every band involved mention him, while the scene itself seems to be a continuous trickle of bands rather than a sudden flourish of breaking talent. Essentially, however, Anyone Can Play Guitar is a brilliantly executed slice of musical history that should be appreciated by music fans beyond those with a connection to the city itself.

Words: Ben Hopkins




Anyone Can Play Guitar will be touring the following cinemas in November:

4TH LONDON, BFI SOUTHBANK (public premiere plus special guests interviewed by Adam Buxton)
9TH HEREFORD - COURTYARD
12TH BIRMINGHAM - ELECTRIC
15TH OXFORD PHOENIX - PICTUREHOUSE
17TH SHEFFIELD - SHOWROOM WORKSTATION
18TH NOTTINGHAM - BROADWAY
22ND PRESTON - CONTINENTAL
25TH LEEDS - HYDE PARK PICTURE HOUSE
26TH BRISTOL - WATERSHED
29TH EDINBURGH – CAMEO

Have your say

Sign in or Register to leave comments
-