Seven things to know about the biblical ‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’ documentary

Director Jake Scott gives NME a pre-release primer for his Britpop blockbuster

Oasis‘ two super-gigs at Knebworth were undoubtedly the pinnacle of Liam, Noel, Bonehead, Guigsy and Alan White’s careers as 250,000 mad-for-it fans packed into the Hertfordshire park 25 years ago.

Grammy Award-winning director Jake Scott’s new documentary, Oasis Knebworth 1996 set to be screened in cinemas worldwide from September 23, tells the story of the legendary shows through the eyes of the band and the fans who were there – including extensive and never before seen archive concert footage over both nights.

We sat down with Scott, who is the son of Alien and Gladiator director Ridley Scott, to hear about seven biblical stories he uncovered while making his film.

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‘Wonderwall’ almost never made the final cut

As crazy as it sounds, Scott had real trouble finding space for arguably Oasis’ most iconic anthem. “At one point it wasn’t even in there,” the director admits. “We’d decided how to cover the two days early on in the edit. We thought rather than mixing highlights from the two nights we’d make it an experience of the whole weekend [from start to finish] where you hear different songs from different nights and there’s a break in the middle. But picking the songs was a process in itself. ‘Columbia’ they come on to and you want that to be the opener. But then you’ve gotta fit everything else around it. And then the big one is where does ‘Wonderwall’ go in? We really agonised over where to put that in.”

We get to see footage of the band soundchecking after a big night on the sauce

The story of the weekend is told via archive video from every angle. There’s even a first person perspective of buses driving fans into the grounds of Knebworth House. Ahead of the mammoth double header, though, the viewer is treated to footage of Liam racing about in a golf buggy backstage. “By Noel’s own admission they’d had a big night the night before and they were up until six in the morning,” says Scott. “You can see [on camera] they’re looking a bit ragged, Liam’s knocking back the Guinness and they’re definitely hungover. Then they just bang that track out – [‘Be Here Now’s ‘It’s Getting Better (Man!!)’. I just thought that’s gotta go in. It’s almost like you’ve gotta have that before the concert, you just wanna give the audience a taster.”

Oasis were at their best live during the Britpop era

From 1994-1996, anyone who caught Oasis saw some of their greatest performances – be it in a sweaty tiny venue such as the Buckley Tivoli in North Wales or at giant football stadiums like Maine Road just months before Knebworth. “We were editing the sequence around [‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ track] ‘Cast No Shadow’ and that’s really where it dropped in for me,” says Scott. “I suddenly woke up on the couch at the back of the edit suite and went, ‘You know what? They’re fucking really, really good this band’. That song in particular really comes across and that group of songs – because there were three ballads in a row at both shows (‘Cast No Shadow’, ‘Wonderwall’, ‘The Masterplan’) – it’s very, very evident how good they were and how well rehearsed they were. Noel said, ‘We could do it standing on our head by the time we got up there’. And you get that from the performance.”

Liam Gallagher on-stage at Knebworth in 1996. CREDIT: Roberta Parkin / Redferns / Getty

Liam Gallagher isn’t as involved as you’d like him to be

Liam is a huge presence on stage in the doc but unlike Noel and Bonehead who narrate the film, he gives little in the way of new interviews. “Honestly, I think it was just Liam’s personal preference,” Scott explains. “As I understood it, he felt the film spoke for itself. Noel and Bonehead offered a lot, Liam wasn’t gonna offer much more. He’s a different person to Noel. He’s a performer and you find this with a lot of actors, they don’t want the distraction of anything else. They want to be in the present moment. And I wonder if it’s a bit of that really, a bit of artistic integrity. ‘I don’t want to remember and go back. I’m doing my tour right now and I wanna focus on that.'”

You won’t spot any camera phones in the crowd

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“You can go on about technology and all that stuff but we are distracted now,” Scott says. “That was actually partly the intention of the way we told the story, to prove that point. The intention of the film was to put you there rather than dropping in and out of it with some on-camera accounts with people sitting in their front room now in their mid to late forties. It was important, I think, to present it to new ears and new eyes. And to try and find ways for kids like my 16-year-old daughter to identify with it as well.”

John Squire knocks ‘Champagne Supernova’ out of the park

They were once in a generation shows without his involvement, but when The Stone Roses axeman popped on stage for a stunning rendition of the ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ closer, the crowd went bonkers. “It’s blinding. It’s absolutely blinding. It’s rock and roll at its absolute best that performance of ‘Champagne Supernova’ and it restores your faith in guitar bands,” Scott gushes.

Liam Gallagher has a massive heart

At one point in the film, a fan at the front calls out to Liam and asks for his tambourine mid-show. Liam responds by promising that he’ll pop by at the end. Sure enough, as Oasis close their colossal double header, Liam jumps down and hands it over. “Liam got a really hard time [from the tabloids then]. But for him to pick out a fan who is calling for a tambourine halfway through the gig and he remembers that kid [at the end], there’s something special about that and I think that’s really lovely,” Scott says.

Oasis Knebworth 1996 is out in cinemas worldwide on September 23

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