When Oasis played Finsbury Park in 2002, the lager-flingers took ownership; it was the beginning of the end
Whether the instantaneous sell-out of Liam Gallagher’s Finsbury Park show is a true sign of his cultural and creative rehabilitation or an indication that the toutbots have become sentient and started drinking Tennants, the show will undoubtedly see Liam come full circle. His great comeback will be sealed at the very place that the Oasis locomotive came off the rails.
July 5, 2002, and they were passed out at the gates of Finsbury Park. Bolting from the tube station to catch Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives and The Charlatans among the impressive support bill, we were stepping over drunks in ‘Shakermaker’ shirts asleep in the street at 2pm, a fitting metaphor for where Oasis were at as they entered the final stages of their stagnation. Eight years on from the poise and power of ‘Definitely Maybe’ and five from the celebration/alienation of Knebworth, the cutting-edge kids were off mix-matching Strokes ties, Libs blazers and Cooper Temple Clause haircuts, leaving Oasis with the dreary detritus of Britpop – the drooling drunkards, lager-lobbing Neanderthals and, if one then-18-year-old future NME staffer is to be believed, a hefty and terrifying National Front contingent.
Either way the mood was ugly, and not helped by a five-hour downpour ahead of Oasis taking the stage. It might have made us notice the overhead waves of piss and lager a little less, but it also reflected the band’s slump into sodden drabness. As with the album they were plugging, ‘Heathen Chemistry’, hopes were raised by an early race through ‘The Hindu Times’, but chundering plodders like ‘Hung In A Bad Place’ and ‘Go Let It Out’ sank into the mud like brick hippos. While ‘Columbia’ gave a brief flash of the old ferocity, Oasis were trying to progress into the new century by shifting into a lower gear, dropping solid gold set-carriers like ‘Supersonic’, ‘Shakermaker’, ‘Rock’N’Roll Star’, ‘Champagne Supernova’ and even sodding ‘Wonderwall’ in favour of far inferior new fare that only served to make Noel’s fading song-writing chops as apparent as James Corden’s inability to grasp the severity of the Weinstein situation.
Classics like ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’, ‘Live Forever’, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ and ‘Some Might Say’ were overrun by steroidal ballads and coke-bloated chod rock like there’d been some kind of zombie apocalypse of Gem and Liam songs. Fists flew in the moshpit and wasted lads attempted to tear the branches from the trees; the hedonistic unity that Oasis had once epitomised had transformed into aggression, self-destruction, a desperate claw at past glories. It was the moment this writer realised Oasis weren’t for him anymore, and the start of the band’s slide into watt-treading nostalgia territory, left in the dust of the noughts indie rock explosion. I only hope Liam’s Finsbury Park fightback comes with the stranger-hugging Oasis spirit that got left slumped at the gates in 2002.