- 11 Apr 19
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Oasis' debut single, 'Supersonic'. The track reached No.31 on the UK Singles Chart, and was later featured on their debut album, Definitely Maybe. To mark the occasion, we're revisiting Andy Darlington's review of Oasis' homecoming gig at Manchester Apollo, originally published in Hot Press in 2001.
The contra-backlash starts here! While chart music is vomit-full of pretty girls and even prettier boys, with guitar-dullards wallowing in angsty, acoustic whimsy, here’s loud, loutish hairy-arsed testosterone Lad’s Rock at just about the best you’re gonna get it. Thirteen months ago I watched them on-stage at ‘Leeds 2000’ with Noel doing his ‘big announcement’ about “me, Liam, Alan, Andy and whatsisname” splitting and going on “to get absolutely shitfaced”. Instead, they’ve toured the year solid. And it tells. Liam’s still master of the all-over body sneer, and he still gobs on stage, but the tantrums – or, at least, most of them, are history. Tonight, in the Manchester Apollo, Oasis are tight and solid. No video-screen, little dialogue, no banter. Liam in denim top, Oasis t-shirt and baggies. Yet touchably close. Humanly close.
Some bands have a vision. It usually involves drugs, sex and behaving badly. But if it’s about anything at all, rock’n’roll is about doing exceptional things that go beyond the narrow confines of ordinary life. Noel had a vision. It was simple, uncomplicated, and clearly defined on the first track of their first album. “In my mind my dreams are real tonight/I’m a rock’n’roll star”. But unlike other no-hopers who also dreamed that dream, he had the songs to back it up.
Rock’n’roll was never really about intelligence levels. Intelligence in music, like sugar in petrol, can do more harm than good. Rock’s essential quality is inspired stupidity. Elvis was inspired and stupid. Lennon was more buffoon-inspired than current mythology allows. And Oasis get it – got it, dead to rights. Against all odds, and despite their unpromising chemistry, somehow – between them, they ignited all that’s best and most memorable about rock in the 1990s.
Arriving with ‘Supersonic’ in April 1994, achieving a chart high of No.1 that same month that Loaded number one hits the newsagents at a special introductory price of 95p and fortuitously getting a namecheck on the cover, they were ker-azy days. And Oasis shone, forcing the tired and battered, hoary, old warhorse of Brit-rock into a new – and last lease of 20th Century life with two decade-defining albums. Until suddenly – after ‘ten years of noise and confusion’, the clarity of the Oasis vision got complicated by its total fulfilment stacked up against the impossible expectations their own success engendered. But while they can never be Definitely Maybe or What’s The Story (Morning Glory) again, they can still sure-as-fuck shee-ine.
After opening with ‘Go Let It Out’, they plunge right back to the start with ‘Columbia’ (“I can tell you the way I feel…”), before kicking into ‘Morning Glory’ and ‘Supersonic’ with no pause to inhale, the lyrics doused in petrol, then torched. For those that care about such things they do three songs off Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants, three new ones, some b-sides, one genetically-modified cover (‘I Am The Walrus’ with Johnny Marr’s eerie slide), six apiece from Morning Glory and Definitely Maybe, and none at all from Be Here Now.
Liam quits halfway through ‘Masterplan’. ‘Half A World Away’ – for cousin Emma up in the circle, ‘She’s Electric’ and ‘Whatever’ (fading into Mott’s ‘All The Young Dudes’), are all done solo by Noel. Then Liam is back for a stand-out ‘Gas Panic’, Noel’s guitar howling in pain, facing the amps, playing directly into them. But throughout, the spots never leave the Gallagher-chimps, with ‘Alan, Andy and whatsisname’ left firmly in the background.
Even when Johnny Marr joins them for a ‘Champagne Supernova’ that infiltrates your brain like a soft narcotic, he gets left in the shadows with no spot. Then it’s ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’. And there’s only one song they can possibly follow it with tonight, ‘I’m a Rock’n’Roll Star (in Manchester)’, the first track on their first album, recorded when they were still suspended between ecstasy and the everyday, when this moment was still the ‘dream that is real’. Well – they took that dream and they made it happen. And the contra-backlash starts here!