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Monday, June 20, 2005
Classic songs prove Oasis can live forever
Even in the thick of Oasis mania, amid the mid-'90s barrage of smash songs and glass-shattering hype, you couldn't help but wonder what sort of future awaited the British band leaders.
With their jumbo egos, taunting of rock peers and super-sized boasts ("If the Beatles were here now, they'd be Oasis," went a typical proclamation), it seemed inevitable that fate, and the fickle trends of pop, would someday deliver a smackdown.
Saturday night was Detroit's chance to see just what a decade's worth of destiny has done with brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher. At a sold-out Meadow Brook Music Festival, what we learned was reassuring: A band that once appeared bent on self-destruction has found a way to survive and thrive, settling into a healthy, respectable place on the rock scene and allowing its music to do all the talking.
Good thing, too. As confirmed by Saturday's 95-minute performance, the older material has aged remarkably well, and it didn't hurt that it was given deserved respect by the Gallagher brothers, who were accompanied by four players including new drummer Zak Starkey. Songs like "Cigarettes and Alcohol," "Rock 'N' Roll Star" and "Wonderwall" -- perhaps as close to a "Stairway to Heaven" the '90s generation ever got -- were performed straight but with passion, featuring especially inspired guitar work by Noel Gallagher.
It was one in a series of considerate gestures to the crowd of 7,700, a high-spirited audience of 20- and 30-somethings who eagerly sang along. While Oasis' listless stage demeanor hasn't changed much -- Liam Gallagher, clad in all black and sunglasses, was reliably stock-still at the microphone -- it has a new vibe. Saturday night, it was a purposeful purposelessness, less of a cold shoulder than a good-natured nod to ritual. "Don't Look Back in Anger," one of the most perfectly constructed pop songs of the past two decades, highlighted a four-song encore that stood out if only because Oasis once brazenly spurned that concert tradition.
The band was particularly engaged with material from the recently released "Don't Believe the Truth," which provided seven of the show's 18 songs and comprised the entire opening stretch. The new music held its own in a well-paced set that picked up energy and emotional steam as it moved along, with the tense urgency of "Mucky Fingers" and the anthem-like "Lyla" atop the list.
Oasis has unquestionably matured -- Noel Gallagher was 21 when he wrote the soaring "Live Forever." But at Meadow Brook on Saturday night, the unabashed optimism of that song and many others remained intact. When it comes down to it, that's the trait in the band's arsenal that has allowed it to triumph over the bluster of its early days. The band's closing cover of "My Generation" was apt: Like its heroes the Who, it's clear that Oasis has found a way to hold on to youthful hope even as it grows up.
With Jet and Nic Armstrong & the Thieves
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Meadow Brook Music Festival
out of four stars
BY BRIAN McCOLLUM
Source: Detroit Free Press
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