The more things change, the more they stay the same...
This birthday show is billed as a celebration of ten years of ‘Noise and Confusion’, and as a metaphor for the next two hours, it’s as accurate as any review you’ll read.
Tonight, in the smallest London venue that Oasis have played in over six years, they perform a raw set high on the ‘traditional’ rock’n’roll thrills that made them famous in the first place – loud guitars, an enigmatic frontman and the feeling that anything could happen, and probably will.
Following the media circus that was the ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants’ world tour, there’s been a seismic shift in the band’s outlook. A period of soul-searching from Noel; a desire to get back in touch with a grassroots fanbase who have become increasingly detached from a group who pride themselves on their roots.
Which is where these low-key club shows fit in. The cynics would say that this is Oasis‘ last chance to play venues this size while they still have the choice, but in keeping with the Gallaghers’ recent rhetoric about not wanting to be the biggest band in the world, but the best, it’s the perfect move.
So they play only a handful of singles. The rest, album tracks (‘Columbia’, ‘Gas Panic!’), songs rarely performed (‘She’s Electric’, ‘One Way Road’) and classic B-sides (‘I Am The Walrus’, ‘The Masterplan’). It’s a fantasy setlist for the hardcore, a bewildering array of material not performed since their mid-’90s peak.
And then there’s the new material. Of the two newies, ‘The Hindu Times’, named after the newspaper of the same name, is the obvious first choice for a comeback single. It’s everything ‘Fuckin’ In The Bushes’ should have been, starting with a sampled drum loop and then building in to a massive, anthemic chorus. One suspects that the second, the Gem Archer-penned ‘Hung In A Bad Place’ is more representative of the group’s future direction though – a full-on punk anthem straight out of the Detroit school of rock.
Paul Weller appears in the shadows for ‘Champagne Supernova’ but through no fault of his own looks like the spare part at a wedding. Because tonight is all about Oasis. This tour is not just a retrospective of the last ten years, it’s an opportunity for the group to announce their manifesto for the future and reassert themselves at the top of the musical foodchain.
And the irony is, they’ve gone full circle and that manifesto is pretty much what it was in 1991 – loud guitars, plenty of attitude and an arm resting firmly on the shoulder of giants.