Oasis Reviews Archive

Reviews from as many Oasis albums, singles and concerts as I can fine. Hopefully in the future incorporating pictures, audio and video.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

London, England (Astoria)


Liam Gallagher
Noel Gallagher
Gem Archer
Andy Bell
Zak Starkey

Drowned In Sound - 9/10
Dom Gourlay

So the biggest circus/soap opera in music is back in town. In three weeks' time they'll be unleashing their sixth studio album upon the world, and despite the fact that 2005 has seen the rise of indie (The Rakes, The Kaiser Chiefs, The Futureheads and Bloc Party - more of whom later) as a viable mainstream commodity, Oasis are still as vitally rabid as they were in '94 when the final traces of Cobain-inspired chequered shirts were finally put out of their misery.

One thing about Oasis' live shows though: they always seem to make strange choices when it comes to selecting support bands, as their last full UK tour with the likes of The Bandits and The Stands proved, and tonight's openers Yeti are no exception to the rule. Being the band that features the one from the Libertines that a) doesn't have an expensive crack habit; and b) isn't the other one that sings and writes the songs tends to make them pretty inconsequential, and despite the efforts of John Hassall and Harmony Williams at livening up proceedings their pub-rock musings seem better suited to... a pub, I guess. Still, it could have been worse - Jet or Kasabian could have been invited, and if that had been the case then I would have been more than tempted to accept the £90 offered to me by the tout with the Liverpudlian accent or the 150 notes waved in my face by the Japanese girl with the placard stating "Real fans paying realistic ticket prices" in the queue outside prior to the doors opening.

When Oasis finally take the stage to the familiar roar of 'Fucking In The Bushes', a sudden surge sweeps me off my feet, and the turbo-charged conveyor belt of excitement around me doesn't let up, particularly when Jude Law (No! It can't be? Can it?) is spotted nodding his head towards the back of the room. Liam Gallagher looks leaner than he has in recent months, sporting a white hooded top and shades (which cover his eyes for the entire show), circling the mic' stand and bouncing to-and-fro like a middleweight waiting for the bell to signal the opening round. Brother Noel stands to his left, resplendent in customary leather jacket, while the less-feted trio of Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Zak Starkey form an orderly queue to the characteristically unruly sibling's right.

Although this is, technically speaking, the first of five warm-up dates preceeding this summer's stadium tour, Oasis still manage to astound and delight with some sublime choices from their back catalogue. Gone for good it appears are the atrocities of 'Be Here Now' and 'Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants', instead replaced by the Lydon-esque snarl of 'Bring It On Down' and the lip-curling tirade of animosity that is 'Headshrinker', while 'Live Forever' and 'Champagne Supernova' still sound as majestic as ever, bringing back the days when music ruled over girls, football, education, learning to drive, EVERYTHING.

With the arrival of forthcoming album Don't Believe The Truth imminent, Oasis chose to play six new songs this evening, and (cue drum roll and prepare to faint...), there wasn't a single duff moment among any of them.

'Lyla', which seems so dull and unadventurous as a single, sounds rapturous and lifts the roof off the Astoria tonight, while opener 'Turn Up The Sun', with its key line "The boy in the bubble, he wants to be free" still resounding around Tottenham Court Road tube station long after the show, is the teenage regressive kindred spirit of Morning Glory's 'Hello', a mellow beginning giving way to a full on gargantuan stomp. 'The Meaning Of Soul' and 'A Bell Will Ring', both debuted at last year's pre-Glastonbury warm-up, sound more confident here, the former a two-minute punk throwback and the latter possibly the only reference point to the B*a*l*s of the new stuff, with its 'Ticket To Ride' backbeat prevalent throughout. Pick of the newbies though has to be 'The Importance Of Being Idle' and 'Mucky Fingers', both sung by Noel veering between Parachutes-era Coldplay and the Velvet Underground's 'Waiting For The Man'.

Ever the diplomat, Liam dedicates 'Rock'n'Roll Star' to "That dickhead out of Bloc Party - fucking student!", casting a knowing glance up to the balcony (Was that Stuart Pearce - I mean GOD - sat up there?), before blowing away the last 12 years in a maelstrom of hail and fury as if none of it never happened.

During the encore they play the inexcusable pile of piffle that is 'Songbird' but redeem themselves in spectacular fashion with iconic renditions of 'Wonderwall' and 'Don't Look Back In Anger'. They thank the crowd, they leave. We don't, we want more. This is a truly majestic return for the brothers Gallagher. Don't Believe The Truth? Not if it states that Oasis are finished, as tonight is reaffirming evidence that they're far from being a spent force just yet.


Still the best night out in rock'n'roll, then

What's the most enduring vision at the first Oasis gig since the Glastonbury disaster? It's not Liam's shorts. It's not the sea of City shirts down the front. It's not even the sight of the nearest useable musician with the closest genetic make-up to that of a Beatle sitting behind the drum stool. No, the most enduring vision is the sight of Jonathan Ross and Ricky Gervais, right at the front of the protruding VIP balcony, smugly sitting in the best seats in the house, like twats. And that's because once you've finished jeering, you realise that of all the nation's celebrity scum, Jonathan Ross and Ricky Gervais are the good ones! You see, all life is here to see on Planet Oasis.

It's funny, really, that people get so worked up about a new Oasis album; you don't see the token gestures which allow The Rolling Stones or Neil Young to carry on touring subjected to the same kind of scrutiny. The problem Oasis have is that what they now are - a glorious pantomime of noise and nostalgia - is somehow considered a failure or a compromise. It doesn't matter that seeing Oasis play their hits in a small club is probably the best night out it's actually possible for the human body to have.

They've become a far better band, of course, since they manned themselves with people who could actually play (alongside Andy and Gem, Son Of Ringo Zak Starkey is the best drummer they've had, as it turns out). And with them, a new sense of humour seems to have seeped into the music. 'Mucky Fingers', their Velvets pastiche, is chuffin' hilarious but unlike, say, Liam's tragic nursery-rhyme 'Little James', they're clearly laughing as much as we are. And in turn, this loosening up makes the songs seem better. Pointedly, they open with two newies, 'Turn Up The Sun' blooms, the biggest surprise being that it's as arresting as any opener you could pick from their catalogue; the boorish 'Lyla' is already a mass chant-along and further evidence that Oasis are prepared to have fun with themselves. And maybe it's just the drama of the moment but 'A Bell Will Ring' and 'The Meaning Of Soul' sound sturdier than they did at Glastonbury.

But whatever, we've all turned up to hear 'Live Forever' and 'Cigarettes And Alcohol', which is where the drama offsets the comedy to create something truly sublime. You can see in the crowd's eyes that these songs have carried them through the same love affairs, fights, divorces and dental procedures that Liam and Noel have played out in the papers. These songs belong to everyone.

It isn't fair to compare Oasis to The Cribs or The Futureheads but compare them to their actual peers for a moment... Coldplay are younger and prettier but they look like they're trying too hard for it to make you properly jealous. U2 are a better band, but they still don't quite have the power to make your heart sing like Liam and Noel. Oasis didn't have it for long, but their true genius - it turns out - is their ability to convincingly relive those days, both in talk and walk. And you get the impression they'll have that forever.

Julian Marszalek

It’s time for Oasis to consolidate and regroup. Following two – count ‘em – 10 year anniversary campaigns, a disastrous Glastonbury appearance and the sudden termination of their sessions with Death In Vegas, it looked as if the Gallaghers had finally given up the ghost and were ready to consider cashing in that pension plan.

Yet, despite it all, recent activity suggested otherwise. Liam was back on hilarious form, lashing out in his typically idiot-savant style at today’s crop of talent while the re-emergence of the old Oasis logo - albeit in scuzzed-up type - hinted at a mighty return to form from a band about to serve up the best thing since ‘Definitely Maybe’. So will tonight’s opener for their ‘Don’t Believe The Truth’ campaign be their Agincourt or their Waterloo? Once more unto the breach, dear friends…

Certainly, there’s plenty to get excited about. In such an intimate setting and with a partisan crowd well and truly behind them, the wall-of-sound guitars of ‘Bring It On Down’ and ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ are irresistibly exciting while the breakneck run through ‘Headshrinker’ is enough to make even the most churlish of nay-sayers admit defeat. In Gem Archer, Noel Gallagher has found the perfect guitar foil and as they trade licks during an incendiary ‘Morning Glory’ it’s apparent how much more fluid Oasis sound. So far so good, but what of the much-heralded new material?

As you’d expect, it’s all a bit of a mixed bag. Unambitious opener ‘Turn Up The Sun’ sees Oasis wading through treacle as it resolutely circles itself like a one-armed oarsman while ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’ finds Noel attempting to master the whimsy of The Kinks but succeeding only in sounding like The Small Faces attempting to play the ‘Steptoe & Son’ theme.

But there are real flashes of the old Oasis magic. ‘Mucky Fingers’, a wholesale steal of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Waiting For The Man’, is fantastic. So shameless is it in its lift – right down to the two-chord riff, Zak Starkey’s agitated drumming and Gem replicating John Cale’s viola drone with a harmonica – that it induces a knowing grin in the same way that ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ did the first time you heard it. If you’re gonna steal, you may as well steal from the very best, right? Elsewhere, the splendid throbbing of Gem’s ‘A Bell Will Ring’ raises an eyebrow as it threatens to explore the outer reaches of drone rock to the obvious consternation of Andy Bell but these flashes are few and far between.

Ultimately, despite Noel’s recent claims and best efforts, it’s the early back catalogue that comes back to haunt them and in the confines of a club gig, it’s what their audience really wants to hear as they relive the halcyon days of a decade ago. So it is that ‘Champagne Supernova’ has become Britpop’s own ‘Comfortably Numb’ while ‘Wonderwall’ resolutely remains the anthem of a rose-tinted generation.

Their approach will do little to earn them platoons of new fans but at least it gladdens the hearts of the legions of existing ones. Neither a victory nor a defeat, then: just business as usual for Oasis.


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