Digging out their souls and easing into their world tour in Canada, they sound mountainous. Pengrowth Saddledome, Canada (August 30).
Am I OK? Not really, it’s a bit creepy, to be honest,” says Noel Gallagher, down the phone to Russell Brand’s radio show all the way back home in England. “I’m in Calgary, which is officially the middle of nowhere. It’s a bit like that place in The Shining, know what I mean?”
In fact, Oasis are in the largest city in the province of Alberta, Canada, just four dates into their “warm up” to the tour for ‘Dig Out Your Soul’. Maybe it isn’t actually the middle of nowhere, but it is far enough away from home to prevent legions of British fans making a pilgrimage: in stark contrast to the UK arena tour which, as ever, sold out in approximately 0.00005 seconds, there are still a few tickets available for tonight’s show, as there are for most of these Canadian dates (average capacity roughly 12,000).
A review tomorrow in local paper the Calgary Herald will begin with the phrase, “Belligerent brats” and ask “Will they act like creeps?”, which gives some idea of the slightly outdated perception of Oasis over here. Maybe if they’d spoken to one fan who bumped into Liam jogging downtown this morning, they’d have got a better idea of where Oasis are at these days.
Because while they may begin with a looped voice announcing, “This is not a test!”, a hail of blinding strobes and the now-traditional ‘Fuckin’ In The Bushes’ intro tape, that’s about as “belligerent” as Oasis get these days. Of course there are no onstage scraps, no walk offs, barely even any between-song chat. What there is, however, from the opening blast of ‘Rock ’N’ Roll Star’ right through to a revived, encore-closing cover of ‘I Am The Walrus’, is the most exciting live band on the planet.
Liam still stares at the audience like they’ve just pissed on his shoes, and his voice – despite rumours he was struggling with throat problems last night and the fact that he cancelled a round of press this afternoon – is as powerful as ever. Sure, he veers a bit closer to the Rotten rather than the Lennon end of the scale these days, but that only adds to the attitude. ‘Lyla’ incites mass pogoing throughout the venue; ‘The Shock Of The Lightning’ holds its own next to the likes of ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ and a gigantic ‘Morning Glory’; a mid-set salvo of ‘The Masterplan’, ‘Songbird’ and ‘Slide Away’ adds a significant dose of beauty to proceedings, while the other new songs – the swaying, groovy, Gem-penned ‘To Be Where There’s Life’, Liam’s violent, blues-y ‘Ain’t Got Nothin’’ and the Noel-sung ‘Falling Down’ – are all highlights.
It’s still, of course, left to the older songs to take the roof off an Oasis show, though, and they come. There’s no ‘Live Forever’, but ‘Wonderwall’, ‘Supersonic’, a stripped-back ‘Don’t Look Back
In Anger’ featuring just Noel on acoustic and Gem on electric guitar (which, in contrast to any time it’s played in Britain, you can actually just about hear over the crowd) and finally ‘Champagne Supernova’ are as life-affirming as they always have been and always will be. They finish with the aforementioned ‘I Am The Walrus’ and then they’re gone, in another glare of blinding lights.
If this is the sound of Oasis warming up, then Britain and all other territories outside of the middle of nowhere are in for a treat come the last few months of this year and (undoubtedly) most ofnext. But then, we knew that already, didn’t we?