- 22 Sep 21
In an extract from an upcoming interview with Jake Scott, the director tells us about the making of Oasis Knebworth 1996.
Christmas comes early for Oasis fans on Thursday September 23 with the cinematic release here of Knebworth 1996, the documentary account of how the brothers Gallagher more or less defined a generation with their two nights at David Lytton-Cobbold’s Tudor pile in Hertfordshire, which had previously played host to the legendary likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zepellin and The Rolling Stones.
The demand for tickets in those pre-internet days – 250,000 were sold and 2.5 million applied for – caused meltdowns in telephone exchanges the length and breadth of New Labour Britain, which had its de facto cultural capital in Madchester.
The lack of digital technology also had a huge impact on how the massive crowd interacted with Noel, Liam, Guigsy, Bonehead and oft forgotten drummer Alan as they performed the hits, the whole hits and nothing but the hits.
“There was no one holding a phone or an iPad in front of me – it just seemed easier to enjoy the gig and get lost in the moment and not having to prove to somebody that you were there”, says Emma Alonby, one of the mad-for-it fans who get to reminisce in Jake (son of Ridley) Scott’s viscerally thrilling film, which includes a hefty dose of social history.
“Yeah, there were no phones, very few tattoos, very little dyed hair, very little piercings,” Jake nods from his ex-wife’s home in Los Angeles. There’s doubtless a story there but let’s return to the matter in hand…
“Oasis had this ‘lad’s band’ label but it was very equal in terms of boys and girls. I’ve looked at the footage intimately and what comes across is the crowd’s genuine love of the band, love of the music and love of the lyrics – they know every fucking word.
“I really wanted to make the film a story about the fans and their relationship with the band and vice versa and how that symbiosis occurred over two days.”
That symbiosis – or symbioasis – definitely comes across with Liam, in particular, clearly feeding off the seething mass in front of him.
The crowd may have been sorted for Es, whizz and lukewarm lager, but the tight as a duck’s proverbial performance suggests that coming off stage the band would have passed a drugs test.
“The audio is off the desk and Liam’s vocals are just spot on,” Jake agrees. “Everything was great. During the edit for ‘Cast No Shadow’ is where it really dawned on me – ‘Blimey, they’re really tight this band, they’re really good.’ I mean, the musicianship is classy.
“Other than the visible intake of Guinness on Liam’s part, they don’t seem like spliffheads. They weren’t smoking any weed or hash. I don’t believe you can play like that and be off your nut. I don’t see how it’s possible because they’re so tight.”
Having previously shot videos for R.E.M., U2, No Doubt, Radiohead, The Cranberries, The Strokes, The Verve and The Rolling Stones, Jake has been around a lot charismatic front men and women. How does Liam compare?
“He’s got it – and he knows he’s got it. That swagger; he’s rock ‘n’ roll. He has that unique charisma. He’s unpredictable too, which makes you want to watch him. He’s as funny as fuck in the film and just incredibly entertaining.
“The balance between him and Noel, and the evident rapport they had at the time on stage, was a lovely thing to work and play with.”
A massive Clash fan who also had Damascus moments hearing The Jam, The Specials, Talking Heads and Johnny Thunders for the first time, Jake wanted – and has succeeded – in making a film that will still be a beered-up on the sofa staple in fifty years’ time.
“Concert films are inferably tedious, but there are a handful of great ones,” he concludes. “I kept going back, not to Monterey Pop or Gimme Shelter, but to Bert Stern’s Jazz On A Summer Day because of its study of the audience at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. The sun, the dancing on the rooftop, the bands going around in vintage cars – you’re totally immersed in the experience of it. That’s what I was aspiring to with the Knebworth film.”
See oasisknebworth1996.com for details of the nationwide Irish screenings. We’ll have an extended interview with Jake Scott in the November issue of Hot Press.