To promote their new album “Don’t Speak the Truth” Oasis recently played a string of concerts at some of London’s smaller music venues. A far cry from their usual live performances, was this an honest attempt to play some intimate live gigs or is it simply that Oasis can’t fill stadiums anymore?
With Liam’s cocky swagger and Noel’s tendency to mouth off in interviews Oasis were once the bad boys of Britpop. They may have looked like they’d just staggered out of the nearest pub and acted with an arrogance that belied their talents but the British public lapped it up and in the mid-nineties Oasis were the biggest band in Britain.
Their debut album “Definitely Maybe” was a massive success and rocketed them into superstardom and the follow-up “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory” was also well received. The Gallagher brothers showed their gratitude by slagging off their contemporaries and famously bragging that “we’re bigger than the Beatles.” And so began the legend of the biggest blaggers in Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Carving a career out of rehashed 60s tunes Oasis’ success was more down to good timing than pure talent. In the early nineties the musical landscape was a sparse desert void of any substance. After years of the airwaves being dominated by manufactured pop Britpop was like a breath of fresh air. Bands borrowed many influences from the 60s and 70s and there was the sense that for the first time in twenty years music was being produced which would define a generation. Oasis jumped on the band wagon and thanks to some well publicised bad behaviour they became the faces of modern Rock ‘n’ Roll.
When Oasis played Knebworth in 1996 tickets sold out in two days, and it was billed as the biggest rock event in British history. Banners displaying the message “250,000 Oasis fans can’t be wrong” hung from the stage and a very smug Liam and Noel were treated like demi-gods.
Unfortunately for Oasis the adulation was not to last. Fast-forward to 2004 to their headline slot at Glastonbury and the scene was very different. Those who could be bothered to brave the cold described the gig as under whelming, Liam and Noel reportedly fought shortly before going on stage and no amount of nostalgia could make up for the fact that their performance was half-hearted. In a few short years it seemed the magic had disappeared.
Britpop dominated the British music scene between 1994-1997 and gradually began to fade away at the end of the decade. While Blur reinvented themselves and released a well constructed self-titled album, Oasis’s 3rd album “Be Here Now” was a self-indulgent mess with 2 minute guitar solos and none of the anthems that fans had come to expect.
Since then Oasis have struggled to regain their status as Britain’s favourite band and their new album “Don’t Speak the Truth” has been given a lukewarm response. The first single “Lyla” hints at the Oasis of ten years ago but the problem is we’re all old enough now to realise that they weren’t even that good the first time around.
In the nineties Oasis helped revive an old era but they were never innovators. Today the British music scene is bustling and vibrant. Compared with artists such as the Libertines or Bloc Party Oasis sound like a bad covers band who would be more suited to the pub circuit.
In a recent interview Noel Gallagher said, “Pete Doherty wouldn’t last five minutes in Oasis” You’re damn right Noel, he wouldn’t. Pete Doherty may have his own issues but his talent speaks for itself. While the Gallagher brothers continue to reel out tired 3 chord songs with as much oomph as a deflated balloon Pete Doherty is a modern day icon, the Sid Vicious of our time. No matter how strung out he was it wouldn’t take him long to figure out he’s too good for them.
Ten years on Liam and Noel are still disillusioned, clearly in denial they don’t seem to realise that they are playing with the big boys now and they are well out of their league.