17. Oasis – This Is History – Live At Knebworth
A short disclaimer: This album is a bootleg of a Radio 1 show that was broadcast sometime in August 1996. I know that, strictly speaking, it isn’t a real album, but somewhere, in a parallel universe, some geek is sat with a pad and pencil, tallying up every time I play each album I own. This will be number one. And it’s my website, so I’ll do as I bloody well like. Yeah.
The popular backlash towards Oasis these days is something that completely baffles me. Look at the state of music as it is now, on its arse, in 2013. Mumford and Sons are headlining Glastonbury and a group of wimps who name their children after fruit, got bullied at school and called themselves Coldplay are the biggest band in the world. If you were told that you could preside over the peak of one of the ten best rock bands ever, with a motor-mouth frontman who had the stage presence of a Moss Side Marlon Brando and a guitarist who is the single greatest exponent of the rock and roll song that britain has ever produced, would you really slag them off for running out of ideas a few years later? Would you shite.
This record is a document of one of the very zeniths of British music. As we look back over our shoulders nearly twenty years later and sneer at the horrific things Britpop spawned (Shed Seven, basically) it is worth mentioning that the five acts at the core of the genre, Oasis, Blur, Suede, Pulp and Supergrass, still have catalogues that hold up today and haven’t dated as much as you think they might have done. As I’m sure my fellow SOTS writer, Mr Featherstone will also attest to, it is difficult to describe the sheer visceral thrill of discovering Oasis; personally I first heard them on a Sky Sports season review show in which Live Forever and Some Might Say were used as background tracks, and I instantly loved them. This was massive music that played to the lowest common instinct, you didn’t have to think too hard about it, you just put the CD in the drive and pressed play.
Despite the fact that Noel incorporates Octopus’s Garden into the end of Whatever, and the album ends with a colossal amping up of I Am The Walrus, here Oasis are more The Who than The Beatles, all slashing guitars and enormous anthemic choruses. The chorus to Acquiesce, after Liam rants in the verse that he doesn’t know what keeps him going but he knows there is something, somewhere, then Noel bellows “We neeeeeeeeed each other, we belieeeeeeeeeeve in one another.” It is one of the most obvious statements of co-dependence in all of music, and if you look at the way the Gallagher brothers careers re heading post-Oasis, it is still painfully prevalent.
The magic moments on this album are too numerous to detail. The bridge to the second chorus of Morning Glory, where Liam snarls the umpteenth f-word of the night; the outro of Some Might Say, with both brothers screaming over the top of each other; exciting new linguistic developments such as “Sunsheeeeeeiiineeah!” Alan White’s heart stopping drum break after the guitar solo in Don’t Look Back In Anger, prelude to the third reading of The Greatest Chorus Of All Time; the sheer explosiveness of the vocal to Slide Away; the little extra flourish in the solo on Live Forever; and special guest star John Squire’s unbelievable axe-work during the penultimate song, Champagne Supernova.
Daft old Robbie Williams aside, we will not see a band or artist who can put on this type of spectacle ever again, the era of the truly massive band is over now. But every facet of that era is over. Think back to 1996, just for a moment. Remember The Fast Show and Nelson Mandela coming to England and Stuart Pearce’s penalty and Adidas Gazelle and Crash Bandicoot and Father Ted and Beckham’s goal from halfway and the euphoria drawn from the fact that John Major was a dead-man walking. Oasis were your soundtrack to all of that. And now, as we watch David Cameron get porky while our society contracts anaemia and Coldplay wank on about making trade fair, we wonder what this country is lacking.
Rock and Roll.
And Oasis were real good at Rock and Roll.
Best Tracks: Morning Glory, Slide Away, The Masterplan
Best Moment: The to-and-fro between Liam and Noel as they walk on stage:
Noel: This is history! Right here! Right now! History!
Liam: I thought it was Knebworth!
(Cue the sound of 150,000 slapped thighs.)
Like this? Try: From Here To Eternity by The Clash, 1999
Allen Miles is 33 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 3 year-old daughter who thinks she’s Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of This Is How You Disappear, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/disappear2014