Oasis - Heaton Park, Manchester - 6.6.09

When significant musicians announce plans to perform in their home cities, the rumblings of ‘homecoming concert’ excitement immediately start up among their fans. When the announcement is made by Oasis, the anticipation descends not only upon those lucky enough to acquire tickets, but anyone who hears the news. The general consensus is that an Oasis homecoming gig is sure to be one of those events which will forever be inscribed on history’s musical calendar. It just seems that when the Manchester veterans of Britpop return to play in said city, they genuinely feel that they are home, sweet home. This shared feeling of joy between band and fan is what inspired the electric atmosphere at Saturday’s Heaton Park performance.

 The 70,000-strong crowd, some decked out in wellies and macs; others not so fortunate, were undeterred by the sopping mud and ongoing threat of more torrential rain. Nothing could have dampened the fact that this was Oasis’s biggest gig since Knebworth thirteen years ago. (Nothing, that is, except for maybe a repeat performance of the chaos at Thursday’s opening show, when ‘technical difficulties’ caused the band to exit the stage twice before being forced to offer refunds to the irate gatherers-but that was an unlikely prospect in the minds of this fresh gathering of expectant supporters.) Everyone had already had more than their money’s worth with stellar performances from support acts Free Peace, Twisted Wheel, The Enemy and Kasabian, but the energy on-site wasn’t about to wane just yet.

Despite earlier downpours the afternoon had miraculously managed to stave off further drenchings, and by the time Oasis arrived on-stage at 8.45 to a roaring version of ‘Rock and Roll Star’, the adrenaline was at an all-time peak. The ground had been newly divided with barriers and security staff to minimize any moshpit-style crushings during the main act; though the majority of the songs still brought bring near-death for the more vertically-challenged. The more recent hit ‘Lyla’ followed up the opening track and, via another mass singsong, proved its credentials as a classic that stands up among the best of them. The even more recent ‘I’m Outta Time’ later brought a stunning performance from Liam, and showed that when he bothers to swagger onto the stage to take the limelight, he can still deliver beautifully. His other self-penned gem ‘Songbird’ equally displayed the lairy frontman’s softer side. Noel provided some outstanding solo pieces himself, with ‘The Masterplan’ and ‘Half the World Away’ returning comparable awe as he took to his chair centre-stage.

 The sweetness of those more tender tracks was as usual interspersed with the energy of the more vigorous anthems. ‘Roll With It’, ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’, ‘Live Forever’ and ‘Supersonic’ saw the jubilance and inevitable thrashing around which has come to be expected of these celebrated masterworks. The sound seemed slightly indistinct on a couple of occasions; the throng of would-be Noels became a little confused over the words to ‘The Importance of Being Idle’ when the audio grew suddenly vague. There were also frequent warnings to wear hoods over heads due to certain audience members apparently urinating into cups then flinging them. These were only slight blemishes though which did nothing to tarnish proceedings, and the euphoric mass of spectators could not have been happier as the foursome returned for the encore.

'Don't Look Back In Anger' marked their return, and Noel served up another rousing performance which prompted misty eyes from even the most sweaty and lager-soaked gentlemen. 'Falling Down' and 'Champagne Supernova' followed, as the melancholy of the night’s approaching end began to pervade all. Finally, the now-familiar show finale of The Beatles’ 'I Am The Walrus' ensured that the assembly of admirers were reluctantly ushered from the park on a high, with an almost complete feeling of satisfaction. It was permeated only by the deep longing for the boys not to leave it so long to make history again.

Words: Rebecca Ryder

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