Good to be back
As Scotland works itself into a frenzy over the Oasis gigs at Balloch, Toby Manning recounts similar reactions to their last performance at Manchester’s Maine Road earlier this year.
hen in 40 or 50 years' time your grandchildren ask you where you were in the glory days of Britpop. the answer will be ‘nowhere' unless you attended Oasis's I996 stadium gigs. Possessing tickets for the Manchester gigs became a symbol of both hipness. and of power. So put-out was one Manchesterjournalist at her inability to blag. steal or even — horrors — [my a ticket that she fled the city for the weekend. Wholly understandable. There was no escaping it. Oasis-fever took over the city like nothing before or after. Madchester was more hype than action. the Olympic bid had its dissenters. and the celebrations for United‘s win this year didn‘t exactly. erm. unite the city. But that April weekend Manchester was as one. welcoming back the world’s most famous City supporters in their moment of greatest glory. To walk towards the centre from about 4pm on
Manchester's favourite sons (left to right): Bonehead, Liam, Noel, Guigsy, Alan White
Saturday or Sunday was to walk against the tide. Everything - cars. taxis. pedestrians. dogs — surged towards Maine Road. The sun shone.
People in taxis waved at pedestrians. Groups of
lads merged along the roads and got to talking.
So was it worth the build tip -~ or the 200 quid being offered for tickets outside the stadium? Well. I wasn’t giving up my ticket for any amount. The music almost didn‘t matter; it was an (’l‘(’lil. And. in case you were in any doubt. the scene-stealing cockiness of Liam in the Kippax stand during the barely—audible. near-invisible support acts. made it clear that this was ()asis‘s event and no-one else's.
But even once Oasis hit the stage. volume remained a problem. rendering the experience akin to inviting a bunch of pissed football fans round to your gaff to sing along to ()asis albums. Worse. Noel‘s guitar sounded like it was being
We’re told Noel Gallagher is a ‘songwriting genius’, but don’t believe all you read. says David Harris.
Nype springs eternal in the corporate breast, and yet the romantic spirit that keeps the rock machine turning us on seems able to withstand contamination by the sordid nature of the beast.
Some of that spirit is evident in the success of Oasis, although the band’s easy absorption into the mediocracy suggests the music industry has regained its stranglehold over the subversiveness that once distinguished the medium’s finest. It’s not long since rock ’n’ roll was a delinquent and undisciplined youth; now middle-aged, it is, for the first time, older than its audience, and the reverence accorded Noel Gallagher is proof that it is content to trade on past glories.
One of the more insidious elements in the two- year diet of hyperbole surrounding Oasis has been the complacency and complicity of journalists. Not just the fawning hacks of the music press,
8 The List 26 Jul-8 Aug I996
Oasis indulge in some cigarettes and alcohol
frightened into submissive coverage by increased competition and industry pressure, but those from the ‘quality’ papers and television - remember the Blur/Oasis Crap Single Contest of 1995? - who,
played at the bottom of a well. How is it that Britain's most famous guitarist is unable to get a decent sound‘.’
That said. the experience was still incredible. The video screens rendered the spectacle not just — finally — visible. but somehow epic. No one poses like Liam. his every sneer a photographer‘s career-opportunity. each blank stare into the blue horizon more soulful than the last. Song highlights were a serene ‘Whatever' with a full string section. the ebullient ‘Live Forever“. complete with the corny/cool ‘dead rock stars‘ projections and surprisingly. ‘Roll With lt‘. which pedestrian on record. suddenly made total sense with 4().()()() ivlancunians singing along. its optimism surging through the crowd like a tidal wave.
Surf that wave before before it hits the shore. Britpop won‘t live forever.
instead of adopting a critical stance, kneel before the PR machine with their mouths open and drop gobbets of trivia on the people of Great Britain.
Oasis’s potential has been all but stunted by overkill, with Noel believing his own press and having most of his ambitions satisfied. He has received the blessing of St Paul of Stanley Road, recorded with McCartney, and, most recently, guested at a Burt Bacharach concert, singing ‘This Guy’s In love With You’ while his idol tickled the ivories; all that’s left is for him to resurrect John lennon for a session. But then the other Beatles have beaten him to it . . .
That veteran rocker Stravinsky once said that good composers don’t imitate, they steal. However, it’s one thing to lift a riff from T. Rex (‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’), quite another to pen a variation on a theme by Neil lnnes (‘Whatever’) or rip off a half-forgotten lloyd Cole single (‘She’s Electric’). Gallagher might have a knack for writing catchy melodies - or is it just that we’ve heard them so often? - but the ‘songwriting genius’ tag is premature, and comparisons with Lennon/McCartney and Bacharach/Oavid are preposteroust wide of the mark.
the attitude shown on Definitely Maybe seems to have been drained from the music and kept for the band’s public pronouncements. Pop music used to be thought of as ephemeral; now that it’s a recognisable cultural fixture, it’s the artists who are disposable media fodder. Perhaps someone should point out to Noel Gallagher that a supernova is a dying star.