Oasis : Astoria Tuesday May 10th
Still the best night out in rock’n’roll, then
What’s the most enduring vision at the first Oasis gig since the Glastonbury disaster? It’s not Liam’s shorts. It’s not the sea of City shirts down the front. It’s not even the sight of the nearest useable musician with the closest genetic make-up to that of a Beatle sitting behind the drum stool. No, the most enduring vision is the sight of Jonathan Ross and Ricky Gervais, right at the front of the protruding VIP balcony, smugly sitting in the best seats in the house, like twats. And that’s because once you’ve finished jeering, you realise that of all the nation’s celebrity scum, Jonathan Ross and Ricky Gervais are the good ones! You see, all life is here to see on Planet Oasis.
It’s funny, really, that people get so worked up about a new Oasis album; you don’t see the token gestures which allow The Rolling Stones or Neil Young to carry on touring subjected to the same kind of scrutiny. The problem Oasis have is that what they now are – a glorious pantomime of noise and nostalgia – is somehow considered a failure or a compromise. It doesn’t matter that seeing Oasis play their hits in a small club is probably the best night out it’s actually possible for the human body to have.
They’ve become a far better band, of course, since they manned themselves with people who could actually play (alongside Andy and Gem, Son Of Ringo Zak Starkey is the best drummer they’ve had, as it turns out). And with them, a new sense of humour seems to have seeped into the music. ‘Mucky Fingers’, their Velvets pastiche, is chuffin’ hilarious but unlike, say, Liam’s tragic nursery-rhyme ‘Little James’, they’re clearly laughing as much as we are. And in turn, this loosening up makes the songs seem better. Pointedly, they open with two newies, ‘Turn Up The Sun’ blooms, the biggest surprise being that it’s as arresting as any opener you could pick from their catalogue; the boorish ‘Lyla’ is already a mass chant-along and further evidence that Oasis are prepared to have fun with themselves. And maybe it’s just the drama of the moment but ‘A Bell Will Ring’ and ‘The Meaning Of Soul’ sound sturdier than they did at Glastonbury.
But whatever, we’ve all turned up to hear ‘Live Forever’ and ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’, which is where the drama offsets the comedy to create something truly sublime. You can see in the crowd’s eyes that these songs have carried them through the same love affairs, fights, divorces and dental procedures that Liam and Noel have played out in the papers. These songs belong to everyone.
It isn’t fair to compare Oasis to The Cribs or The Futureheads but compare them to their actual peers for a moment… Coldplay are younger and prettier but they look like they’re trying too hard for it to make you properly jealous. U2 are a better band, but they still don’t quite have the power to make your heart sing like Liam and Noel. Oasis didn’t have it for long, but their true genius – it turns out – is their ability to convincingly relive those days, both in talk and walk. And you get the impression they’ll have that forever.