In their 12-year career, Oasis has never shied away from playing historical shows and venues. However, last night Manchester’s Finest took to the stage of New York’s Madison Square Garden, shockingly, for the first time.
To be fair, it’s been nearly a decade since the band’s mid-90s heyday and even many stateside loyalists, myself included, were silently pondering how the gig would play out given the less-than-stellar sales of the britpoppers last three albums in the US.
However, any questions as to whether or not this night would go down as a “W” for Our Kid and Co. were quickly lost when the boys took the stage after the opening instrumental “F***in’ In The Bushes” amid the roar of a thunderous sold out crowd that included Warner Music Group head honcho, Lyor Cohen (and yes, we saw you leave after the second song. You missed out!).
If openers Jet got the arena hyped with their pod-tastic hit “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” then the Gallaghers made them positively manic, opening boldly with three straight numbers from their extraordinary new album Don’t Believe The Truth, “Turn Up The Sun,” “Lyla” and “Love Like A Bomb.” Liam Gallagher, decked out in a snazzy pinstriped blazer and requisite sunglasses, kept his infamous temper in check, graciously applauding the crowd and announcing song titles from the very start. After the first trio of tunes, long-time fans were treated to the punky live favorite “Bring It On Down” from Definitely Maybe. But, the alert system was raised from “manic” to “mental” when Noel Gallagher picked the familiar opening riff of “Morning Glory”, the title track of the group’s biggest-selling album in America (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? 16,000 strong were doing their damnedest to drown out the younger Gallagher’s trademark sneer, resulting in some truly incredible vibes of rock greatness.
From there, the energy level rarely dipped as they immediately plunged into “Cigarettes and Alcohol” and then slowed the pace with the Noel-sung numbers “The Importance Of Being Idle” and “Little By Little.” “A Bell Will Ring” displayed new drummer Zak Starkey’s prowess on the skins as he shredded through the choppy beat of the Revolver-esque, Gem Archer-penned tune. The band then pulled off an inspired back-to-back pairing of “Live Forever” and “The Meaning Of Soul” played straight through that was only monetarily endangered by Liam’s threatening gestures to an anonymous sound technician posted sidestage. While the problem was never resolved, with Liam’s vocals and Noel’s guitar lying a bit low in the mix for the duration of the night, the energy of the venue more than compensated. Closing the regular set full strength with “Mucky Fingers,” “Champagne Supernova” and “Rock N Roll Star,” the fab four plus one exited stage right; leaving the crowd to stew in frenzied anticipation of the inevitable encore.
Upon returning to the stage, bassist Andy Bell took a seat behind an organ adorned with the group’s Big Brother label logo as they launched into the curveball opener “Songbird” from 2002’s Heathen Chemistry. Then, in what can only be described as an explosion, the crowd shrieked with hysterical zeal after Noel played the four chords that sold 10 million records. The song was “Wonderwall.” Played electric, it was huge. Still awe-inspiring and, yeah, let’s say it, a God-like piece of music. Whatever was left of the audience’s vocals chords then went into singing along full volume to the chorus of “Don’t Look Back In Anger” before the show closing cover of The Who’s “My Generation,” complete with Ox-worthy, monster bass from Bell.
While the band remained physically self-restrained and reserved throughout the evening, (save Liam, who exchanged banter with the first five rows throughout the night. At one point, he even seemed to be asking for opinions on his hair.) it was Noel that was the most conspicuously non-engaging. Though we must forgive him if, as rumors suggest, he is actually battling a nasty throat infection. (Speaking of rumors, a little birdie told us that two girls looking suspiciously Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were spotted getting nice and plastered backstage. WTF?!).
Still, for a band that is supposedly years past their prime, the bothers Gallagher and their bandmates proved once again Wednesday night that they are nothing less than the swaggering, living, breathing keepers of the spirit of true rock n’ roll.
The band may not want us to believe the truth, but the truth is last night Oasis made Madison Square Garden believe that they are still one of the best bands in the world, album sales be damned.
Source: Joseph Wilkes