Trêve de Noël
PHOTO CREDIT: Jill Furmanovsky
Supersonic, Reunion Rumours and Why Oasis Continue to Compel
IT would be impossible to end the year…
IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images
without talking about Oasis! Those reading might think that quite odd: the lads have not produced music in years and irrevocably split – the two Gallagher brothers engage in spats, conflict and exchanged jabs. One expects that kind of spirit and spit from two men who, even when Oasis were together, did not always gel that well. I have been watching the Oasis documentary, Supersonic, quite a lot. Initial reviews of the documentary, last year, highlighted the great times and the glorious music. Many noted the battles and wars were overlooked. Publications like The Guardian pointed out it was overtly positive and did not tell the whole truth. That is a misleading assumption because, when you watch, the members allude to bad times. There was the moment Liam kicked off on a ferry and got stuck into a mass melee. Liam loved the spirit and physicality whereas Noel was a bit more pragmatic. He condemned that behaviour and, unsurprisingly, Oasis were in the press for the wrong reason. Part of the legacy and reputation stemmed from the no-holds-barred, unedited comments from the Gallaghers. They were keen to proclaim Oasis the best band in the world; mouthing-off and slagging the competition. They have that northern wit and honesty but, because of their mother, Irish humour and candidness.
That combination of D.N.A. and confidence meant they were always a controversial and divisive band with critics – the documentary looked at all the headlines, fall-outs and tension. One could not produce a documentary to celebrate a band’s music and make it too negative. We have all heard about the fights and problems with their father – the Gallaghers pointing out how he was abusive and ostracised from the family – and how their mother raised them on her own. Liam and Noel were interviewed separately but every member of the band came to the same conclusion: despite the lows and tabloid obsession were some fantastic moments. The sell-out Knebworth gigs were among the defining moments of the 1990s. The build-up and hype surrounding the gigs was Oasis at their peak. It was a surprise to see so many people flock to see Oasis take to that stage. Over two-and-a-half million applied for tickets; V.I.P.s were given their own Oasis-branded binoculars; over seven-thousand were on the guestlist; only two arrests were made during those gigs - and Noel is a bit spotty when it comes to the gigs. Whether that was the result of some epic post-gig caning or the fact it was years ago – when he spoke to Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs (in 2015); she asked him about those times.
IMAGE CREDIT: @liamgallagher
Noel knew he was there – as there is empirical proof to back it – but the rest is a bit of a blur (a bit of Britpop humour there!). Most of us huddle around the Christmas fire to watch It’s a Wonderful Life or a Disney flick – maybe another watch of Mary Poppins! They are the classics and staples of the yearly routine. The fact Supersonic has been gaining press speaks volumes. Many preferred the Oasis documentary over the usual selection of Christmas-themed films. I was among them and, following a Twitter truce between the brothers; there is renewed interest in the band. Liam took to Twitter to wish 'team NG' (Noel Gallagher) good luck in 2018. Although it was not the two of them hugging and downing pints together; it was a thawing of tensions that bubbled and heated during 2017. The usual to-and-fro continued – each brother poking at the other – and, considering they both released albums (Liam’s solo debut, As You Were; Noel’s Who Built the Moon? gained huge acclaim) there was a perfect platform to lob a grenade in the enemy camp. The reason I have that French title (up at the top) is the Gallagher ‘truce’ reminds me of the infamous/rumoured coming-together during World War I. Troops, once opposed and balkanised, disposed with their guns and climbed out to play a cold, Christmas game of football. How much of the rumoured comradery and conviviality was factual – one suspects there was chilliness still – could not disguise the huge step each side made (both probably advanced more in that game than each side did in the War to that point).
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Whilst Noel and Liam’s pleasant social media exchange was not on the same level as that truce; it did seem to have a whiff of détente and brotherly compromise. That, of course, sparked the rumour-mill and put fans into a frenzy. The fact Liam made that step could have been the result of Christmas bonhomie – the tweet was sent on 19th December – but one feels there is a desire to get the band together. I have heard interviews where Liam regrets the way things ended. He felt they could have gone on but, remembering Supersonic; Noel felt they could have ended after the Knebworth gigs – going out on top and not letting the band drag on and become stale. Be Here Now came out a year after the gigs and, whilst not the best album from the band; it signalled there was life and energy left in the bones. That cocaine-soundtracking album was the most swaggered and bolshy of the band’s career – following from the more cannabis-scented, all-for-one anthems of their first two albums. I remember 1997 and the speculation surrounding Be Here Now. It was one of the last times in music where there was genuine excitement and memorability. People do not queue up for music anymore and spent hours waiting to get a record!
IN THIS PHOTO: The cover for Oasis' third album, Be Here Now/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
The 1990s saw a gradual shift from physical music to digital – although the Internet did not start to dominate until the latter stages of the past decade. It is disappointing seeing a lack of that physical lust and the need to grasp an album in your hand. One can argue that is a natural development of the digital age but, in truth, there are no bands like Oasis around. I feel there is a huge interest in the band now goes beyond Twitter buzz and the repeat of Supersonic. The documentary reminded us of those great times and why the lads are so revered. The music was incredible (the playlist at the end of the feature collates their top songs) and they were incredible live performers. It is the personalities and approach to life that resonates. You only need to hear the Gallaghers talk about their respective albums to know their wit, honesty and boldness is still present and correct. The guys do not need to be together to get into the papers. Noel has that natural charm and humour whilst Liam is still the same rebel and leader of the working-classes he has always been. Neither has dampened and distilled in line with the passages of time. Maybe their songwriting has gone in different directions but neither artist has sold-out and changed who they are. There is the fire and ability there but you wonder whether Oasis, if Bonehead and Paul McGuigan came back – maybe Andy Bell and Gem Archer – they would pick up where they left off.
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The final album, Dig Out Your Soul (2008) was one of their better late-career efforts but not up to the standard of their first two records. Definitely Maybe (1994) and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995) are considered two of the greatest albums of the 1990s and classics. The band would not return to that template because they are not in the same position. The brothers are famous and have different ambitions; they have matured their sound and would probably produce something similar to their solo material. We can argue about possible album-sounding directions Oasis 2.0 could take but that belies the main point: the need for a band like them to salvage music and inspire the people. There are no working-class heroes at the forefront of music. Oasis led a 1990s vanguard that included Pulp and Blur. Perhaps those bands were edging towards middle-class but, alongside the 1980s legends like Stone Roses – there was that spirit of the proletariat gaining control. Rebellions and upheavals have, historically, been led by those underfoot, under-heard sectors of society who are ignored by the government. Back in the 1990s, before Labour came in, there was the feeling Britain was drifting and disconnected. Oasis’ glory and music spoke about modern life in a way that was fresh and honest. It was not manufactured or directed to impress the big labels: the lads produced music that came from the heart and was born on the streets.
The sort of modern equivalent is Grime and Hip-Hop. Modern Rock idols, aside from the best newcomers, either lack the common sense to talk about Britain as it is or are from privileged backgrounds. Labour are staking the middle-ground out and are seen as leaders-in-waiting. Jeremy Corbyn has helped mobilise and vocalise the working-classes but the musicians who are charged with documenting social commentary are letting the side down. The Tory government have made a mockery of the nation and the democratic process has not resulted in positive change and development. The majority want out of Europe and elect a leader who is posh, painfully out-of-touch and powerless. If the misguided masses are unaware of what’s best for Britain; it seems there are music lovers who know the likes of Oasis are a necessary tonic and counterattack. An Oasis reformation cannot cure the lack of working-class faces in the mainstream but it would compel others to take action and change media perspective. Even if Noel and Liam are wealthier than they were in the early-1990s; they have not changed who they are and what they believe. Oasis would produce their eighth album that, one hopes, would have the same ideals as Definitely Maybe but mix in different sounds and ideas – get Liam charged in the booth and have Noel craft some new licks and massive choruses! Modern bands are critically endangered and there is a musical global warming. The pollution from the vague Popstars and the generic Alternative bands has warmed waters once teeming with life and innovation. Oasis’ departure from music left a vacuum that has not been adequately filled.
The music of Oasis is timeless because of the quality songwriting and incredible performances. It is not a nostalgia trip holding dear the treasured times of the Manchester band. The songs have relevance today and, with the need for a new Labour charge – the same as when Tony Blair came to office in 1997 –, there are parallels between now and when Oasis ruled the land. If the street poets of Rap and Hip-Hop are keeping the beat and realities of the street firm and uncompromising; there are no popular bands who are prepared (or in any position) to talk about the Britain we live in. I am not suggesting we expect a happy reunion an instant return to the 1994/1995 heyday – that would be impossible for many reasons – but there is an appetite for new Oasis record. Liam is up for it but Noel less so. Maybe it will never happen but the Christmas olive branch was a big step towards reformation and cordiality. The Gallagher war has been raging since the late-2000s and one cannot go from a mutual dislike to a close-knit bond. The thing is; the brothers always had that rivalry and difference – it exacerbated when the band got famous and various influences (human and substance-wise) impacted the lifespan. If they learnt from those times and cleaned the slate. Maybe I am a dreamer but, to quote John Lennon, I’m not the only one. The sensible and rationale majority have their voices ignored when it comes to the vote; they want to remain tied to Europe and see a government who protects our best interests come in. That might not happen for a bit but music can take a stand and lead a revolt. If Oasis did reform; we would not want the guys to change and fake a persona. Do not adapt, dilute or bargain – we all want you to be exactly…
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
AS you were.