Oasis recorded seven studio albums over an 18-year-long period, but the band in the millennium was very different to the Mancunian five-piece that recorded Definitely Maybe. Following Tony McCarroll’s sacking, the band started employing seasoned musicians to fill in the blank spaces, and by 2005, the group included Ride guitarist Andy Bell on bass, and The Who’s very own Zak Starkey on drums.
When Oasis disbanded in 2009, vocalist Liam Gallagher decided to employ Bell for offshoot band Beady Eye. They were far from the magnitude of artist that Oasis was, precisely because they lacked a songwriter of Noel Gallagher’s stature.
Noel Gallagher arguably has the most objective view of the band, considering that he wrote the majority of the singles, and decided on the conceptual themes of the albums. He was also responsible for the bass guitar on the first four albums, filling in for Paul McGuigan, who would learn the bass for the stage. And he also wound up singing at an MTV gig when his brother Liam declined to sing for the performance. So when he describes something as the band’s “lowest point”, then I’m inclined to believe him.
When he was asked in 2017 what the band’s worst moment was, he decided to highlight the two shows they performed in London in 2000. “[That was] the low point in Oasis,” he said. “It was a horrible two-and-a-half hours on stage. Liam can hang his head in shame. It was dreadful.” He’s being too polite; Liam showed no regard for the audience, singing as if screaming from the back of a pub, desperate to get someone’s attention.
It’s to his credit that Noel performs to his heart’s content, every riff pummelling through the proceedings with tremendous goodwill. The band were going through the motions, not quite ready to embrace the art-rock of Don’t Believe The Truth, but not content to cast off the shackles of Britpop either. Oasis had yet to realise that the 1990s were over, and they had to move on with the times, but they were still respectable enough to play to a sold-out crowd in London.
In defence of Oasis and ‘Standing on the Shoulder of Giants’
The recordings betray a bored sounding Liam and an exasperated Noel, as the brothers come closer and closer to loggerheads. Much of this frustration was put to better use on Standing on The Shoulder of Giants, which demonstrates the songwriter’s frustration at the world at large. It’s a deeply confessional work and stands as a Noel solo album in all but name. He was always the better singer of the two, which is why it’s all the more surprising why it took him so long to embark on a solo career. But he eventually found the bravery to start his own career, which resulted in the excellent Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds in 2011. The album showcased the many aspects of Noel’s trajectory, having abandoned the trappings of stadium rock to the past. The singer claims that he will never reunite with Oasis, but has joked that his brother might pop up in a different manner.
“I did say that once, right, in the press, that I was gonna stage the concert with holograms, and I think Liam took it seriously,” Noel said on BBC Radio 2’s Sofa Session. “Liam is a hologram anyway. I don’t know if people know that, he’s not actually real. … But yeah, of course, I’d do it. If anything ever changes, trust me, he would be the first to let people know about it.” A hologram of Liam would prove to hold more dignity to the hackneyed singer that bellowed out the vocals in 2000 towards a Southern audience.
As it happens, Oasis lead guitarist Gem Archer joined Noel Gallagher’s band in 2016, while founding guitarist/keyboardist Paul Arthurs tours with Liam Gallagher, who finally embraced the trajectory of a solo artist following the break-up of Beady Eye. Neither brother seems happy to slice off the shadows of their former band, but instead, repackage it to serve their personal purposes in life.
Clearly, there were some good times in the band, and the two produced Definitely Maybe, arguably the most important rock album this island has produced in the last 30 years. Indeed, it’s probably the second most important rock album of the 1990s, and it’s only eclipsed by the pesky Nevermind album, written by Nirvana.
So, there are many positives to gauge from the time in Oasis, but the lows certainly stuck with the guitarist, songwriter and secondary vocalist. He clearly invests everything he has into a project, so it must have been galling for him that his brother didn’t match that level of professionality and commitment. Noel Gallagher later realised the folly of the band’s later years but tried to harness that anger into a more mature and sophisticated back catalogue.
Stream the 2000 performances in London below on Spotify.