Oasis: Is This The End Of The Road?

After the news that Oasis have split up following a violent “altercation” in France, NME’s Hamish MacBain looks back at the rock ‘n’ rollercoaster that is the sibling rivalry at the heart of the band:

“Because we need each other/We believe in one another…”

There must be times when Noel Gallagher curses the day he wrote that oh-so-easily interpreted chorus to ‘Acquiesce’. Today being one of them. According to the older Gallagher, his involvement in Oasis is over. “It’s with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight,” he said on Oasis’s website, following an alleged altercation at a show last night in Paris. “People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer.”

We have, of course, been here before, in 1994, 1995, 1996, 199… you get the idea. It’s hard to recall a harmonious Oasis tour ever. Noel left in Los Angeles in September 1994, taking offence at Liam changing the words to ‘Live Forever’ (“Maybe I don’t really wanna know/Why you pick your nose”). Then, he took off, planning to “do the Hunter S fucking Thompson thing”, but was back stage left shortly afterwards. Post Knebworth in 1996, with ‘(What’s The Story)…’ riding high in the American charts, Liam refused to go on a US tour, claiming that he had to “find a house”. Oasis continued without him, with Noel taking on vocal duties. Liam turned up a few dates into the tour. Then Noel went home following another fight.

The nadir of Gallagher relations came in Barcelona in 2000. Forced to cancel a gig after then-drummer Alan White had damaged his hand, Oasis embarked on a marathon drinking session, culminating in Liam questioning the legitimacy of Noel’s daughter, Anais (an act which Noel says he has never apologised for). The older Gallagher left the tour immediately, leaving Liam to draft in guitarist Matt Deighton and soldier on through the remaining European dates (which means no one – not Liam, not Noel, not anyone – has played at every Oasis show ever. Fuckin’ weird, eh?). Noel rejoined Oasis for the UK shows, but on a now infamous second night at Wembley Stadium, Liam showed up after a marathon drinking session and spent the set goading his brother. “Lazy-arse has been sat on his back all year!” he snarled at one point, then going on to mime digging a grave behind his brother as he sung the chorus to ‘Acquiesce’.

And so on and so on and so on.

What is different this time is that – thanks to a somewhat belated grasping of the power of that internet thing to vent one’s spleen by both Gallagher brothers – the public have had a much more candid glimpse into relations within the Oasis camp. Only last week Liam was berating Noel for hanging out at a U2 aftershow on his Twitter; the week before that, through his ‘Tales From The Middle Of Nowhere’ posts on the Oasis website, Noel was accusing Liam of being “on his man-period” at a particularly volatile iTunes show at the Roundhouse in Camden. Liam subsequently claimed he had “been made to feel uncomfortable these last few months”. They’ve always slagged each other off through the press; now though, they are doing it every other day on the internet.

The simple truth is this: for his entire adult life, Liam has been encouraged by the world to behave as much like a badass rock’n’roll star as he possibly can, which he has done to frequently glorious effect. That’s what people want from him. But there is one person in the entire world who finds his antics increasingly tiresome and that is Noel. He still loves being in Oasis, too, but just cannot be arsed dealing with his brother any more. Noel is now 42 years of age and a father of two. His priorities are different, and he is quite patently fed up of being part of rock’n’roll’s biggest soap opera. Sure, both Gallaghers are lippy, witty people and so can’t resist the occasional – OK, frequent – dig at each other, but they don’t actually speak at all. Maybe, this time, the time HAS come.

So, the future? Well immediately, Noel has got a guest slot to do with psychedelic warlords Amorphous Androgynous at Matter in September; his brother has got his fashion label Pretty Green to occupy his time with. Liam has stated both that he has no interest in making a solo record, and also that, as it was his band before Noel joined, that he would carry on Oasis should Noel ever leave. Noel, meanwhile, has often hinted that he’d like to do a solo record, and that he has loads of songs that aren’t Oasis songs. Bottom line: music-wise, we haven’t heard the last of either Gallagher. Not by a long way.

Personally speaking, as someone who had his life changed by Oasis, as someone who once queued up for 19 hours straight outside Shepherd’s Bush Empire to buy an Oasis ticket, as someone who had a flight booked to Milan to see Oasis on Sunday, I’m gutted.

Hamish MacBain