Noel Gallagher has spoken about how the new film Oasis Knebworth 1996 perfectly captures the young diversity of their audience when the band were “at their zenith”, before developing what he called a more “yobbish element” among their following towards the end of their career.
Gallagher was speaking last night (September 16) at a Q&A in front of an audience at the premiere of the new film at London’s Picturehouse Central, where he opened up about the energy that the concert film-meets-documentary captures of the time of the legendary gig.
“I felt that, at that time, anybody who was anybody was about my age,” said Gallagher. “Thatcherism was on its way out. We didn’t know it, but it was. There was a young guy called Tony Blair who was about to come and sweep it all away with the will of the people.
“We had Prince Naseem Hamed, who was this flamboyant little Muslim kid who was just fucking laying waste to everything. You had Kate Moss, Damien Hirst, Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Irvine [Welsh] – everybody seemed to have come from the bleakness of the late ‘70s and ‘80s and had done something with their lives.”
He continued: “Not only that, but they had a voice. I’m not even sure what we were trying to say collectively, but the people were listening. It’s a great moment for the band. ‘Morning Glory’ hadn’t really taken off and, I know it sounds mad now, but we hadn’t got paid. We were fucking loaded, but we hadn’t been paid. The chimps hadn’t turned up, or the tigers, the fur coats, the top hats and fucking laser beams – the good stuff.
“We were still in the same circumstances as our audience, almost. It was a real snapshot of a band at its zenith. Thank God we had the foresight to film it and thank God we had the foresight not to put it out for all these years. If we’d have put it out at the time, we wouldn’t be sat here now talking about it.”
As well as presenting “a real snapshot of that time”, the film also shows what Gallagher described as a more diverse Oasis fanbase before it became more male-dominated towards their split in 2009.
“Our audience then, and you’ll see this in the film, it’s quite mixed boys and girls,” said Gallagher. “Oasis towards the end had this yobbish element. The second generation of Oasis fans became quite yobbish. For better or for worse, I don’t know why that was – but at that point [Knebworth] it was boys and girls.”
He added: “There was only one arrest the whole weekend. Some fucker let the side down. Fucking Scouser. But it was a celebratory time of youth culture. There’s a tonne of interesting things to look out for. If you look at the ground then, they don’t look that different to how we look today.
“In 25 years, we haven’t changed that much. I look a lot better, but Liam looks virtually the same. If you go 25 years previous to that, it’s black and white, it’s another world. It’s crazy how youth culture has closed down – and I blame the internet – but fucking don’t get me started on that.”
The Jake Scott-directed Oasis Knebworth 1996 is released in cinemas on September 23.
Reviewing the film, NME’s Alex Flood concluded: “For those who were there, the film provides a portal back to a golden age. For everyone else, it’s a reminder of those special teen years – when a plastic cup filled with warm lager and a sunny afternoon in a park makes for the biggest adventure of your life.”