Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Oasis Review

Fresh from a brief time-out in the recording studio and a couple of warm-up gigs in Italy and London, Oasis returned to Britain to play a short series of intimate one-off gigs before their summer tour. They arrived in a sun-soaked Edinburgh to play the Usher Hall; a 2700 capacity theatre specially transformed for the gig and the perfect location to try out a string of new songs in front of a demanding Scottish audience.

Big things are expected from their sixth album, Don't Believe The Truth, and some critics have hailed it to be a welcome return to the Oasis of old; traditional UK rock with a hint of The Who and Velvet Underground influencing many of the tracks. With the sun beating down on the city and the pubs full to bursting with keen rock fans, the scene was set for a blasting evening of rock 'n' roll.

And it's in the pubs of Leith that sees the start of our story. I met up with Zander and we popped in to see Dave, Isla and the kids. Molly (with some gentle encouragement from Isla) was shouting across the local gardens, "Daddy's been in the pub boozing again!" Heh!

We stopped off in the Raeburn Hotel for the first pint of the day before heading to The Shore Bar in Leith to join Tom and Gav for the afternoon. The streets of Leith had brought out the sun-worshippers and the Water of Leith was lined with people soaking up the sun, drinking and watching the odd syringe and limb float past in the river. We found a table to sit at by the shore and made it our own for the next few hours.

Much laughter and burning of the skin ensued; in fact the entire left side of my head and face reacted as it always does with any small amount of rays by glowing uncerimoniously red. We popped into Guiliano's for a quick bite to eat; Chateaubriand (rare) and a bottle of Nastro Azzuro the popular choice, before jumping into a taxi and moving to the west end of the city and the Hogshead Bar in Bread Street.

We were just taking our seats when I noticed some familiar faces sitting near the window; Gail's Uncle Buddy, his daughter Sandra and her partner Ben. I went over to say hello and we ended up joining them for a few beers and chat about the supposed tunnel between Edinburgh Castle and Herriot's. Zander made the claim, and I'll have to check that out for authenticity.

At about quarter to nine we decided we should head round to the Usher Hall so we could get there in plenty of time and to try and get Tom a ticket (he still hadn't got one). When we got there I bumped into another old pal - Duncan Robertson - up and coming bar/restaurant entrepreneur in Glasgow. We heard from the bouncers that Oasis were coming on at nine and not ten pm as we originally heard, so we fired into the venue in case we missed the start of the gig.

The crowd was loud, taut with expectation and a layer of thick excitement floated like clouds above hundreds of sweaty heads. No sooner than we had wormed our way to the front-right of the stage, the traditional Fuckin' In The Bushes introduction came blasting out of the mega-speakers right over our heads. The intro died out and the band walked onto the stage to a tumultuous reception from the capacity crowd.

A strange silence befell the people, as every one of them held their breathe and waited for the first track, Turn Up The Sun. The crowd in the stalls launched into full leaping mode and it was then I realised we were slap bang in the mosh pit. A few elbows in the face later and Oasis were into the second song, the new single out tomorrow, Lyla. It's a great track and the perfect single release to promote the new album. It's catchy and contains some classic Oasis-type riffs.

With no chance to get a rest they kicked into Bring It On Down; a fast rolling track from their first album Definitely Maybe. Then it was time for a couple of Oasis classics; Morning Glory and Cigarettes and Alcohol pushing the crowd to almost scary levels of excitement.

Liam strutted around the stage in his usual manner of arrogance and anger. He never once removed the mike from it's stand; his trademark pose as he hit the notes and the challenging manner in which he addresses the crowd make him such an interesting artist to watch on stage. You can see he feels every word and he wears his heart on his sleeve, almost daring everyone not to agree that he knows he fronts one of the biggest bands in the world.

By this stage you could almost see the smell of B.O. and alcohol in the atmosphere as the thousands of sweat-soaked bodies cast off the booze intake from a day in the sun. The band followed with a couple of slower tracks; Stop Crying Your Heart Out and The Importance Of Bring Idle before speeding things up on the roller-coaster set with A Bell Will Ring and my personal favourite, Live Forever.

Then the first moment of controversy of the evening occurred. Liam had been seen complaining to the stage wings and banging his mike, sometimes quite vociferously. He was clearly unhappy with the sound quality from the mike or the connection between earpiece and the sound system, so he walked off stage swearing and gesticulating at the sound bloke.

This unexpected absence meant the band couldn't play Headshrinker as planned so Noel took over and the replaced the track with Little By Little. Liam came back on with a new microphone and the band were suddenly into The Meaning Of Soul and Mucky Fingers - a very Velvet Underground sounding track.

Liam and Noel, using their brotherly connection to full artistic effect, worked the emotional Champagne Supernova superbly. They flowed effortlessly into Rock 'n' Roll Star before taking their bows and leaving the stage.

The crowd wasn't going anywhere though and when the band returned they did so to a raucous roar - and Liam with yet another new microphone. Despite announcing they were going to play Aquiesce they sang Songbird. A strange choice but seemed to be greeted warmly.

The next song of the encore was one that Noel once said he would never again perform in public. In fact the last time I saw them at Aberdeen they never played it live but it was played over the tanoy after the gig had ended. So it was with great surge excitement that accompanied the first few chords of one of Oasis' greatest ever tracks - Wonderwall.

Liam belted the track out but what was even better was Noel really looked to be enjoying the song, which he penned a decade ago, and seems to have found a freshly mature approach to its lyrics. It's the ultimate crowd pleaser and so was Don't Look Back In Anger which followed it, sung by Noel himself.

Liam threw his tambourine into the crowd causing a mad crush right in front of us, then persuaded a girl who was perched on her boyfriends shoulder to flash him her breasts. I saw her turn and mouth to her pals behind, "I can't believe I just did that!" Nor could we, but nobody complained.

Oasis finished their set with a dedication to The Who (and to "the wee Krankie women" in the front row of the circle) by giving the crowd their own take of My Generation. A great end, to a great gig.

I have to say I thought Oasis were superb tonight. It's so refreshing to see a proper rock band performing with such energy and passion, throwing caution to the wind by peppering the set with so many new songs, yet keeping a hold of their roots.

After the gig we met up with Tom back in the Hogshead until closing time. We popped into a Spanish bar with a late licence then onto Fingers Piano Bar until the wee small hours. I can't remember when I got home, but when I did, I remember feeling ecstatic after a great day out - albeit with sunburn to my head - and money well spent.

Git of the day award goes to the man who attended the gig with his young, Oasis fanatical son, and being refused entrance to the concert because he was too drunk. What kind of a man does that? And what kind of a man offers the crying kid a handful of notes for their now useless ticket?

Footnote: I was holding off publishing this review until I got my photo's back on CD but the thicko in the shop blundered. They came out crap anyway, so it's just the late blog entry I'm afraid.
Colin 10:17 am


Add a comment