In the late 1980s an explosion happened in the UK pop music scene. At the centre of that explosion was a band consisting of a pair of blonde twins, Matt and Luke Goss and their friend Craig. They made some catchy but hardly groundbreaking pop music but looked really good and sold a heck of a lot of records. They were called Bros. (pronounced ‘Bross’). If you can remember them, then what you may have forgotten is just how huge they were for a fairly brief time back in the latter half of the ‘80s.
Then things went south very quickly. The non-sibling, Craig left – who’s never even mentioned by his former band members but his face is in pictures and videos (the Blu Ray has loads of extra scenes and and even an interview with the Craig, I’m seriously considering buying it). The brothers carried on as a duo and released more blue-eyed soul music. Then, after their latest release failed to top the charts, one of the twins, foreseeing the inevitable after the press declared the end of Bros., split the band.
And then nearly 30 years later they reunited and decided to film the lead-up to the sell out reunion concert. The end product being arguably the greatest documentary about being in a band, fictional or otherwise, since Some Kind Of Monster AND This is Spinal Tap.
Matt and Luke Goss appear to have everything at the moment the film starts. They had varying successes in respective careeers as a solo artist or even, remarkably, a movie star who worked with Guillermo del Toro not once, but twice, in Blade II and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Matt has a very lucrative singing residency at a Las Vegas hotel and has done so for a few years. Luke has, as mentioned, been carving a fairly successful career in film and is even directing his own (direct to video) action film. Then the subject of their former life comes to the fore and this is where things go beyond what you think the documentary will be about.
There are those who’ve suggested that certain parts of After The Screaming Stops might be scripted. There may have been ideas suggested, quotes perhaps left strategically on napkins, who knows, but the quotes by the band members are beyond what I could repeat here. I could and very possibly should give you loads of examples but I’ll give you just a few because the context and the nature of what you hear within the documentary itself is just jaw-dropping. The standout one though is probably this:
“I made a conscious decision because of Stevie Wonder not to be superstitious” (my wife and I had to stop, rewind and watch this twice.)
But there’s something significantly deeper here, a profound sadness. As much as things get silly (Matt showing us around his Las Vegas home, the manner in which he emphasises the importance of the word ‘Home’, the Chess area) it gets serious as soon as the brothers realise the enormity of what they have to deliver and it’s here that the ‘wibling rivalry’ kicks in.
Warring family members are nothing new in films or TV but here it’s as painful as it hysterically funny. Arguments happen over songs in the concert set list alongside conversations over the banning of conkers in the UK (a bizarre misconception by Matt). Family histories are discussed frankly, most painfully the death of family members as well as favourite childhood toys – a single dart that was shared between them with no dart board. Both brothers are prone to airing thoughts that are often cringeworthy, Matt especially, but the aforementioned sadness prevails throughout even when met with adulation and the long-standing devotion of fans. It’s no spoiler to say that the concert goes ahead and is a success but the road that gets them there is far from smooth or straight.
It’s been said that the best comedy has a shade of darkness to it but as much as this is, at times, unintentional comedy gold, the fact remains that the inevitable grey cloud that lingers makes it all the more unusual that something so entertaining can be so equally solemn and sobering. Fame can be a very unusual burden.
Is this the actual real life This Is Spinal Tap? There are so many golden quotes from the brothers that yes, it almost equals Rob Reiner’s classic mockumentary, but there was never as much sadness and genuine, heartfelt emotion in Spinal Tap as there is here. What this documentary rams home is just how huge Bros. were for a time and their ascension to super-stardom happened as quickly as their eventual demise.
A final quote for you : “I think hindsight is the philosophy of fools. I love words but I think it’s valid. Because you learn nothing in some ways. Because sometimes you have to do the same again.” Matt Goss
As funny and cringeworthy as some of this undoubtedly is, the dominant force here is the brother’s passion, their undeniable talent, the harsh friction of their tumultuous relationship, but also their intense love of music, their fans, their family and ultimately each other.
I wrote an article for Film ‘89 recently about the best fictional and factual music films and documentaries (and ashamedly missed out Almost Famous). After The Screaming Stops would have placed very high on that list. For lovers of music, the music industry and the effects of fame on mortal men, this is essential viewing.
Film ‘89 Verdict – 9/10
After The Screaming Stops is available on DVD & Blu Ray and is currently available on BBC iPlayer.