The phone starts ringing. I’m going to ignore it before I remember I’m waiting for a delivery.
“Hello,” I growl.
“What’s that, Si? Oasis have cancelled?
“Oh. Is this because of the … yeah … and the Tibet thing. Uh-hu.
“Okay, well at least I won’t have to fork out an extortionate amount of cash to see a bunch of floppy-haired has-beens pose on a stupidly large stage for an hour, and then leave feeling empty and disappointed. Like I was going to anyway! Hah!
“Yeah, okay, see you at the Stone Roses reunion.”
Phone is replaced in the cradle, end of conversation. Back to Taiko: Drum Master.
A standout quote for me, just one of the mind-bendingly stupid comments to leak from a fan’s mouth as equally brain-dead MTV presenters aimed microphones at poor fools before Oasis’ famous Knebworth gigs in the mid-90s, was that “in the 60s, it was all Beatles, Beatles, Beatles. Now it’s Oasis, Oasis, Oasis.”
Don’t get me wrong, the wave of euphoria that met the arrival of their amazing first album Definitely, Maybe was rightfully deserved, while that weekend at Knebworth House in 1996, when they played in front of 250,000 people over two nights, undoubtedly helped revitalize an English music scene that had descended into drab, repetitive techno (2Unlimited) and soap-star pop (Kylie, Jason, Dannii, Stephan, et al).
But would those who rushed to snap up tickets for the doomed gigs at Beijing’s Capital Gym and Shanghai’s Grand Stage this week (the band are still to play Hong Kong’s AsiaWorld Arena on Tuesday, April 7) have seen the same band as the one extolled back then as ‘the future of music’?
Despite using similar chord progressions to the Fab Four at scarily regular intervals and referring to them in every interview at the start of their career, those who constantly compared the two at the time only highlighted their sheer lack of originality and short-sightedness. This Manchester outfit was never going to have a long shelf life.
And as time has gone on, I, as usual, have been proved right (I have a real knack for pessimism).
I can honestly say I was there at the beginning back in the 90s, being a member of a moderate audience for one of their early gigs in a sleepy backwater of north England. I watched with fascination, as most did that night, at the way Liam took centre stage (I didn’t know what that term really meant until then) with his vocal intensity while he spouted brother Noel’s angst-ridden musings.
“The day’s moving just too fast for me/I need some time in the sunshine … Tonight, I’m a rock and roll star.”
People were living that dream with him as he sang it, mainly as they were in the same shitty position as them at the time. These guys were real and so were their dreams. The audience could see it, feel it and, if close enough to the stage, physically touch it (I smelt it, too). The plebs were being invited along for the ride.
“Maybe you’re the same as me/We see things they’ll never see/You and I are gonna live forever … live forever.”
And when they followed all that up with second album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, even my dark, dirty cloud was starting to grow a little silver lining. This was the start of something beautiful.
So, what happened? How did I go from listening to them telling me to ‘pick myself up, live that dream, kiddo’ to hearing kitsch, nursery rhyme lyrics like “I can see a liar/sitting by the fire … I wonder what he thinks of me”? As they say on Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, “Where Did It All Go Wrong?”
Well, just to go back to those who compared them to the Beatles for a second, let me say this: the Fab Four were prolific and consistently successful. Over a seven-year period between 1963 and 1970, they produced 13 albums, all containing hit records. Oasis have been together 18 years and have released, so far, nine albums (one of B-sides), each a degree worse than the last one.
To be fair, their last album, Dig Out Your Soul, topped the UK charts and made it to number five in the American Billboard Charts, but that probably says a lot more about their fans’ loyalty than anything else.
Can we really forgive them for tripe like “I got my feet on the street but I can’t stop flying/My head’s in the clouds but I can’t stop trying”? Where’s the anger? Where’s the pathos? I can but agree when Liam whines: “We live a dying dream” on their latest single Falling Down (released March 8).
Noel, say it ain’t so! Say it ain’t so! Could this be the same man who wrote “All your dreams are made/when you’re tired to the mirror and a razor blade”? Surely not?