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Wednesday, May 11, 2005
So the biggest circus/soap opera in music is back in town. In three weeks' time they'll be unleashing their sixth studio album upon the world, and despite the fact that 2005 has seen the rise of indie (The Rakes, The Kaiser Chiefs, The Futureheads and Bloc Party - more of whom later) as a viable mainstream commodity, Oasis are still as vitally rabid as they were in '94 when the final traces of Cobain-inspired chequered shirts were finally put out of their misery.
One thing about Oasis' live shows though: they always seem to make strange choices when it comes to selecting support bands, as their last full UK tour with the likes of The Bandits and The Stands proved, and tonight's openers Yeti are no exception to the rule. Being the band that features the one from the Libertines that a) doesn't have an expensive crack habit; and b) isn't the other one that sings and writes the songs tends to make them pretty inconsequential, and despite the efforts of John Hassall and Harmony Williams at livening up proceedings their pub-rock musings seem better suited to... a pub, I guess. Still, it could have been worse - Jet or Kasabian could have been invited, and if that had been the case then I would have been more than tempted to accept the £90 offered to me by the tout with the Liverpudlian accent or the 150 notes waved in my face by the Japanese girl with the placard stating "Real fans paying realistic ticket prices" in the queue outside prior to the doors opening.
When Oasis finally take the stage to the familiar roar of 'Fucking In The Bushes', a sudden surge sweeps me off my feet, and the turbo-charged conveyor belt of excitement around me doesn't let up, particularly when Jude Law (No! It can't be? Can it?) is spotted nodding his head towards the back of the room. Liam Gallagher looks leaner than he has in recent months, sporting a white hooded top and shades (which cover his eyes for the entire show), circling the mic' stand and bouncing to-and-fro like a middleweight waiting for the bell to signal the opening round. Brother Noel stands to his left, resplendent in customary leather jacket, while the less-feted trio of Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Zak Starkey form an orderly queue to the characteristically unruly sibling's right.
Although this is, technically speaking, the first of five warm-up dates preceeding this summer's stadium tour, Oasis still manage to astound and delight with some sublime choices from their back catalogue. Gone for good it appears are the atrocities of 'Be Here Now' and 'Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants', instead replaced by the Lydon-esque snarl of 'Bring It On Down' and the lip-curling tirade of animosity that is 'Headshrinker', while 'Live Forever' and 'Champagne Supernova' still sound as majestic as ever, bringing back the days when music ruled over girls, football, education, learning to drive, EVERYTHING.
With the arrival of forthcoming album Don't Believe The Truth imminent, Oasis chose to play six new songs this evening, and (cue drum roll and prepare to faint...), there wasn't a single duff moment among any of them.
'Lyla', which seems so dull and unadventurous as a single, sounds rapturous and lifts the roof off the Astoria tonight, while opener 'Turn Up The Sun', with its key line "The boy in the bubble, he wants to be free" still resounding around Tottengham Court Road tube station long after the show, is the teenage regressive kindred spirit of Morning Glory's 'Hello', a mellow beginning giving way to a full on gargantuan stomp. 'The Meaning Of Soul' and 'A Bell Will Ring', both debuted at last year's pre-Glastonbury warm-up, sound more confident here, the former a two-minute punk throwback and the latter possibly the only reference point to the B*a*l*s of the new stuff, with its 'Ticket To Ride' backbeat prevalent throughout. Pick of the newbies though has to be 'The Importance Of Being Idle' and 'Mucky Fingers', both sung by Noel veering between Parachutes-era Coldplay and the Velvet Underground's 'Waiting For The Man'.
Ever the diplomat, Liam dedicates 'Rock'n'Roll Star' to "That dickhead out of Bloc Party - fucking student!", casting a knowing glance up to the balcony (Was that Stuart Pearce - I mean GOD - sat up there?), before blowing away the last 12 years in a maelstrom of hail and fury as if none of it never happened.
During the encore they play the inexcusable pile of piffle that is 'Songbird' but redeem themselves in spectacular fashion with iconic renditions of 'Wonderwall' and 'Don't Look Back In Anger'. They thank the crowd, they leave. We don't, we want more. This is a truly majestic return for the brothers Gallagher. Don't Believe The Truth? Not if it states that Oasis are finished, as tonight is reaffirming evidence that they're far from being a spent force just yet.
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