For a band that are supposedly well past their sell-by date, it is something of a wondrous feat to sell out the 50,000 capacity Finsbury Park for three consecutive days. The Charlatans, Black Rebel Motocycle Club, The Soundtrack of Our Lives and The Coral were all invited by Oasis to support—that Noel Gallagher can invite the bands he’s into and they’ll turn up to play throughout the day is a further testament to their influence.
So where are Oasis in 2002 and why the near-religious devotion? For the band that soundtracked Britain in the 1990s, they have seen American acts elbow their way to the forefront in the new Millennium; still, they stand as a totem of rock both in the music and tabloid press because there is nothing like seeing one of your own up there. By the end of the night, there was little doubt that they are still as vital and hungry as when they were penniless urchins trying to break out of their working-class Manchester background. The belief is that the new album, Heathen Chemistry, is better than the previous two but not a patch on the first couple and that’s probably fair. But thanks to a leak on the Internet, the crowd are more than familiar with it despite only being officially released this week; as part of a live set it all comes together and makes sense.
The single “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” might be just aural wallpaper on your kitchen radio while you do the washing up, but in front of thousands of people it raises the hairs on the back of your neck. “Some Might Say” and “Hello” are still immeasurably better played live than they could ever hope to be on record, while “Live Forever” and “Go Let it Out” are meatier and find their heart on the live stage. When it all comes together for Oasis, it really comes together. “I never thought I’d be playing this to 50,000 people when I wrote it,” Noel laughed before launching into “She’s Electric”, probably the least rock and roll song of the night. It steals the “I’ll be you and you be me / there’s lots and lots for us to see.” Line and tune straight from early 1980s British children’s programme Me & You. But like a warm comfort blanket of vague childhood memories, it’s impossible to dislike.
The very essence of Oasis is their twisted familiarity and accessible sense of belonging. The band’s music is the centre point of a Beatles, Sex Pistols and T-Rex Venn diagram, while Liam is still the only bone fide British rock icon that women want and men want to be.
Britpop standard “Cigarettes and Alcohol” is still as raw and relevant as ever while “D’Yo Know What I Mean?” was a snarling and prowling epic. As Liam sneers “all my people, right here right now / D’know wot I meeeean?” you know exactly what he means. Sloshing about in the mud, drunk, stoned and high on music, thousands of fans sung and sniggered along like Muttley knowing that this time there would be no Dick Dastardly to rip the medals from them. Tonight we were Liam’s people—the last gang in town and they were on our side.
They left us with a scorching cover of The Who’s “My Generation,” dedicated to the late John Entwistle, but a perfect summation of what this gig represented—a celebration of our generation. Oasis might never be cutting edge but when it comes to cutting it live there are few that can touch them. Why are people still so mad about Oasis some seven years after their commercial peak? Well, as long as people are still drinking, smoking, doing the white line and want no-nonsense balls-out bands that you can shout along to, then Oasis will continue to sell out venues this big. Fuckin’ ‘ave it.