Oasis - Lancashire County Cricket Ground - 14.9.02
Approaching the venue, past the arch rivals United's ground, it's clear that something has changed. Once an air of violence prevailed at Oasis gigs, the sort of atmosphere that would make a So Solid Crew concert look likes child's play, but now like Liam and Noel the crowd have grown up and, dare we say it, have their best times behind them. Divorce, kids and light ales have replaced the Friday Night blood baths and meat markets...yet the serenity of 30 something year old harmless drunks is a welcome relief after the Bolton Stadium and Manchester Apollo shows where it was a case of one eye on the stage and one eye behind you for the next flinging fist. Support slots from Electric Soft Parade, Soundtrack Of Our Life's and Richard Ashcroft who apart from a choice selection of Verve classics (Sonnet, Lucky Man, The Drugs Don't Work, History and Bitter Sweet Symphony) decides to stick to his forthcoming album and in the process proves that the Shining are where we should all be looking to. Again it's a telling tale that once the wife and babies come, rock & roll goes out the window.
In a move straight out of Peter Kay's Phoenix Knights the week before, Oasis plead ignorance and head straight into the Gary Glitter pilfering "Hello". It's so typically Oasis in the fact that all that matters is rock & roll and football - everything else is incidental. After all why let hard cold facts get in the way of a great tune, especially when the rest of the music industry is pushing S Club Juniors onto the general public.
If one thing is likely to divide fans more than the United Vs City debate it's when the band launch into songs from the "Heathen Chemistry" album. At times recalling their best days on modern classics such as "The Hindu Times" and my personal highlight "Stop Crying Your Heart Out" and on others such as "Hung In A Bad Place" and Born On A Different Cloud" simply going through the motions. Thankfully forthcoming single "Little By Little" with Noel on lead vocals being backed by a choir of 50,000 in the stadium is rescued from the tuneless dirge of the recorded version. Sadly, the "Heathen Chemistry" heavy set, means that classic Oasis moments are relegated to the inevitable Greatest Hits tour a few years down the line. While "Live Forever", "Cigarettes & Alcohol", "Columbia", "Don't Look Back In Anger" are like family coming back to the fold, the likes of "Supersonic", "Shakermaker", "Half A World Away" and the lost son "Whatever" are noticeably absent. Even songs from "Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants" such as the Liam penned "Little James" are absent, which with it's simplistic innocent lyrical passages remains for me one of the most under-rated Oasis songs, and if it wouldn't be for Noel's strangle-hold on the song writing would have made a classic single.
As ever the band close with the cover of the Who's "My Generation" which has taken the place of "I Am The Walrus" in the bands hearts. Pushing the talents of Andy Bell and Gem to the fore, it's clear that regardless of whether the songs are better or worse in 2002 they certainly look cooler than Guigsy's curly mop and Boneheads receding hair-line. They may not be the essential force they once were, but when their once arch rivals Blur are on the brink of a split, Oasis seem more solid than ever. What they really need to do now is break away from the outside world and retreat further into their own heads, sack the support bands and come back with a tour which celebrates every aspect of Oasis from Andy Bell's Ride and Hurricane #1, Gem's Heavy Stereo, an acoustic set from Noel, Liam upfront solo with the rumoured Johnny Marr collaborations before rounding it off with a greatest hits set from the full band. They could even take it a step further, hand out the Olive branches and invite Bonehead's Moondog One, Guigsy's new band and Tony McCaroll as the openers.
From right back in the day, Oasis have been out there on their own with many people trying to emulate their success and failing every time. While this may not have been their best gig, every time the doubts kick in they come back stronger than ever, so just wait till the next tour and breathe a sigh of relief
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