“I’m mad and I’m off me tits.” So said Liam Gallagher to a US journalist in 1996. He was right, of course, but like every great madman there was also a fair bit of genius residing within as well. I’ve spent the past week YouTubing videos of “the boys”, as ‘mad’ 90s comic Lee Evans described them on TOTP back in the glory days, to bring you this: The Ten Greatest TV Performances Featuring Oasis…Ever (up to and including 1996, mind).
1. ‘Supersonic’ – The Word, March 18 1994
We must start at the very beginning, and the reason is simple: Oasis were never cooler in front of the cameras than on March 18, 1994. It’s tough now to think of the band as anything approaching abstract, or left-of-centre – how can you be when you’ve sold gazillions? – but ‘Supersonic’ genuinely was weird, and an oddity. Just read the lyrics. Listen to that sliding, aggressive intro. The glorious backing vocals. The way the solo (Beatles played by Bolan) just goes round and round at the song’s fade. It’s as out there and unstructured as the band ever got, really, and here, more pacey and completely shorn of its drums-only start, its electrifying, even all these years later. At the centre of it all is Liam, of course. He’s the cockiest he’s ever, ever been.
2. ‘Champagne Supernova’ – MTV VMA’s, September 4 1996
From the brilliant to the brilliantly banal. Loads of people slate this one – Oasis’ big no-no in America – but they’re wrong. Firstly, the band sound great, heavy as hell yet not grungey, or power-chord-punk at all. Secondly, Liam totally owns the entire place. I’ve got an American friend, not a Britrock disciple, who says he can vividly remember watching this performance open-mouthed because Liam’s behaviour – the gibberish, the gobbing, the stare – was so alien, so unpolished, so un-MTV. That this went out in front of 300 million people worldwide (The Word at 11:35pm on a Friday night it was not) makes it even more triumphant in my eyes. But then again, Oasis were sharing a bill with Hootie & The Blowfish and The Cranberries. So what did anyone really expect?
3. ‘Roll With It’ – Top Of The Pops, August 17 1995
Everyone who’s ever owned a TV with BBC2 on it has seen this, so I’ll keep it brief and descriptive: it’s Oasis, miming purposefully awfully, with Noel and Liam very obviously swapping roles at the height of Britpop. The jokers.
4. ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, MTV Unbroadcast, 1995
A rarity but a goodie. It’s Noel in all his mid-90s pomp with his trusty Epiphone acoustic guitar, playing the sweetest version of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ you’ll ever hear. Extra props must go to the dog continuously barking in the background – presumably the reason why this was never broadcast. It only found its way online a couple of months ago, so give it a whirl now. Nice dig about Blur at the end too, Noel.
5. ‘Round Are Way’ – The White Room, December 22 1995
On another day perhaps I’d have put this at Number 1. I love how unashamedly heavy the brass is. Most bands with a tuba or sax on stage with them would naturally amp up the cheesiness, or try to create something more abstract, but Oasis don’t change one bit, just marrying it all to a standard, three-chord Noel rocker while Liam – the sweatiest singer in existence – does his thing.
6. ‘Whatever’ – MTV Most Wanted, August 18 1994
An almost lullaby-like ‘Whatever’, complete with awkward interview with host Davina McCall (pre-Big Brother) at the start – what’s not to like? Bonehead even gets a piano solo on it.
7. ‘Live Forever’ – David Letterman Show, March 8 1995
I couldn’t not include the band’s debut appearance on Letterman. Noel’s dodgy jacket aside (gold, Noel?!), they don’t put a foot wrong – from the way Liam saunters up to the mic at the start (sluggish, lazy, here’s a man who neither knows nor cares what a “Network TV Debut” is) to the wall-of-sound that kicks the track into next year.
8. ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ – Jools Holland, November 28 1995
I’m picking this over the equally enthralling ‘I Am The Walrus’ cover they performed on an earlier version of Jools. It’s all about the way Noel – still very obviously relishing every opportunity that comes with his Morning Glory victory lap – is literally living out all his teenage bedroom dreams. You don’t see him get emotional too often, but here the barriers are down.
9. ‘Acquiesce’ – The White Room, April 17 1995
Easily the best looking video on in this Top 10 in terms of a stage set. Why can’t we have programmes like The White Room nowadays, huh? Anyway, Liam and Noel are – rarely – both seemingly on the same page here, rather than surreptitiously trying to outdo each other like they normally do. It’s got a more unified, happy vibe to it than perhaps anything else on this page.
10. ‘Supersonic’ – French TV, June 15 1994
A second appearance from Supersonic, but a valid one. Heavy like AC/DC, it’s Liam’s glare that’s most exciting here. He’s still the most confident man in music – and this proves he always was, even before anyone really knew a single thing about him.
Finally, special props must go to the following live video, which I’d never seen before, of the band playing ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ in Philadelphia in September 1996. It’s one month after Knebworth, two weeks after Liam quit their uber-important MTV Unplugged gig on the day of the show, and one week after he missed his flight to the US in order to buy a house back in London. It’s undoubtedly the headiest, craziest time of Liam and Noel’s entire career, with the band seemingly falling apart at the seams. Retrospectively, they probably wouldn’t argue with that assumption, and with all of the above in mind, here they are onstage, snorting into the microphone, chucking tambourines around, pissed as arseholes. Watch it ’til the end.