It’s a straight-ahead Oasis documentary, charting the rise of the Manc geezers from formation (and before) to their staring-into-the-abyss watershed moment, when they played Knebworth Park, in the summer of ’96. There’s very little in the way of contextualisation, but who needs that when you’ve got expert raconteurs like Liam and Noel Gallagher, telling us their singular story? It’s a great story, which places us right inside the bubble, in the eye of the hurricane. In fact, there’s so little in the way of acknowledgement of anything existing outside of their cocoon, that the bitter Blur/Oasis chart battle of summer ’95 doesn’t even get a mention. They were like a tornado laying waste to everything in front of them, that’s a lot to cram into a 2-hour film.
As is presumably the intention, it got me thinking deeply about that period of my life and life in the ‘90s in general; the sense of wistfulness I felt during and after the film was overwhelming, stunning me into a silent, pensive, almost catatonic state. The Roses were my coming-of-age band, but Oasis were my “of-age-and-fucking-having-it” band, and they are synonymous with some of the best days of my life. It irks me these days that any mention of Oasis is met with a sneer and pithy put-down. It’s always the same, lazy criticisms that have been written into the unofficial music-snob’s manual, and I will refute any of them with a passion burning on lunacy. It’s akin to CCP indoctrination; if you think you know music, you have to, at some point, declare your contempt for the Gallaghers, (and it is the Gallaghers, because, bar Bonehead, the other players are just a revolving cast of supporting characters in their story.) No, the scorn poured on them is unacceptable, and for most of the critics, they were their gateway band, although no one would never dare to admit it. I remember queuing up with you for ‘Be Here Now’, pal. I remember you jumping on the bandwagon for a couple of brief years before the media turned you on to the next fad. I remember you with your Liam cut, your Manc pimp-stroll and your cocaine habit. I remember offering you a ticket for Earl’s Court for free in ’95, and you dismissing it a ‘gay indie shit’, and the next moment wetting your knickers at the prospect of going to Knebworth. So when you register your disdain in front of an audience on Facebook, there’s always someone with a big nose who knows…
I do take it personally, because it’s the same as pissing on someone’s life. I would never dream of openly mocking someone’s taste in public, music is personal, and I’m way past the playground mentality of lambasting someone’s taste. What’s to gain? A momentary smugness in front of your peers? It must be great. I’m doing a slow-hand-clap while I write this.
Inevitably, good reviews of the documentary will bring out the naysayers, loudly proclaiming that, actually, at the beginning they were rather good. Some may even go to see it and begrudgingly enjoy it, for it is a hugely enjoyable film. Liam and Noel are on top form throughout, there are some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, some heartstring-tuggingly melancholic moments, and some chest-beatingly life-affirming moments. Predictably, it ends up focussing on the dynamics between the brothers, who couldn’t be more different, and their power struggle, both visibly coveting what the other has. There are some unaffectedly touching moments, where both brothers pay each other the highest compliments, perhaps seeing this film as a vehicle for their reconciliation, because evidently they are too stubborn to tell each other face to face that they need each other, as the song goes…
Liam emerges from it surprisingly well; we know he’s charming and hilarious, but there’s a depth to his observations, his reflective moments shining through the bluster and the clowning. He’s not the yob that his adversaries relentlessly level at him, he’s an extremely insecure, sensitive soul who uses his braggadocio to mask his anxieties. Noel we know can spin a good yarn, and he doesn’t disappoint. It’s a film that will have grown men of a certain age feigning hay-fever on a few occasions, as they recollect their glory days. It’s a powerful piece of cinema that transports you right back to those few years, not only as spectator, but as participant, such is the intimacy of some of the footage. Most of all, it’s top notch entertainment. A must for anyone who was mad for it in the 90s and anyone who’s ever been affected by Oasis’ music. And despite protestations, the smart money is on every detractor having been touched by at least one Oasis tune.
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