Tuesday, 28 October 2008


Catherine Jebson comes back for more, this time with a review of an Oasis gig in Sheffield.

Saturday 11th October, Sheffield Arena.
There are certain people who demand your attention. When the Pope makes his addresses from his seat at The Vatican, or the American electoral candidates thunder through the smaller States. When midwives across the globe declare a child's sex to their eagerly awaiting parents. All captivating moments of collective undivided attention, and yet none of them appear to have shit on the instant the Gallagher's take the stage at Sheffield. The level of devotion inspired by the first sight of Liam's trademark swagger is nothing short of religious. As the ultimate Northern lads band roll into town, their fan base have followed in almost pilgrimage fashion. The love has spilled onto the surrounding streets and trams, even into Meadowhall's unbelievably aptly named 'Oasis' food court where a coach load of fans had taken to terrifying late night shoppers with choruses of "You gotta make it happen!", as if the locals cowering into their cous cous had some immediate path of action to take. The excitement is infectious hours before the doors even open and leaves you feeling that tonight, Liam and Noel won’t merely be playing to an audience, they'll be entertaining their own troops.
This hype is nothing new of course. Oasis are hardly strangers to the Arena circuit and yet with the brothers' frequent skits and their anthemic set this feels as intimate tonight as it would were they to play in your back garden. Oases aren’t a band that can rest on their laurels and put on a half-arsed show in the knowledge that their new album's number one anyway. Real heart and thought has gone into this gig and it pays off. The roar that follows Gallagher Senior's introduction of 'Don't look back in anger' is Spartan in proportion. As the man points out, this is Sheffield's song, it being written fourteen years ago in a dressing room hours before the band were due onstage. Noel himself is on top form, an observation made more incredible by his currently nursing three newly broken ribs. His stunningly belted out acoustic rendition of 'Don't look back' thrusts two fingers normally associated with his younger brother at the Canadian wanker who could've put a stop to it all. The set is catered toward pleasing the populist fan, but with fifteen years of releases under their belt it's difficult to design a gig otherwise. The more hardcore fans are treated to old gems 'Slide Away' and 'The Masterplan' in favour of the career defining live favourite 'Live Forever', but the set is so blindingly polished and uplifting that it barely registers as amiss. Besides, when you're privileged enough to be played for at this quality for a relentless two hours, complaints would not only seem ungrateful, but downright anal. We even get some classic Liam remarks when he spots a glow stick wielding couple down the front. As they happily pull shapes to the new and gorgeous sounding 'Shock of the lightning' the epitome of Manc' charisma spits at them, "You're at Oasis, not the fucking Klaxons."
The older material predictably gets the warmest responses, but far from proving tired old accusations that Oasis are living off everything released before 'Be Here Now', when 'Songbird' and 'Lyla' get their airing, the crowd go just as nuts. Tonight though belongs to 'Dig out your soul'. The band's seventh and arguably their most groove-based studio album scales altogether trippier heights than 2005's 'Don't believe the truth', even boasting a piano ballad. It's still very much Oasis, but a deeper, more reflective and frankly, more intelligent sounding Oasis than ever before. The strength of this band therefore stands up and shines when new songs 'The Rapture' and 'I'm outta time' have the same proportion of the crowd singing every word as they did to their ten year old counterparts. The customary seven minute finale of 'I am the Walrus' is accompanied by an epilepsy-inducing strobing bonanza of green and red lights and screens. Everything tonight looks lush and sounds gargantuan, particularly as (after an initial fluff in the keyboard dept) Oasis lose themselves gloriously in a cover of the aforementioned Beatles song that the 'fab four' could never actually play live.
Oasis. So heart wrenchingly, throat achingly impressive that part of me can't help hoping Damon Albarn was watching.
Oh and the support, Twisted Wheel were not only forty minutes late, but also unoriginal Libertines wannabes. Volume and Topshop haircuts do not the good band make.

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