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After a ten year tight relationship with their local fans the Gallaghers are after the major prize: to fill River Plate stadium, Buenos Aires..
Are Oasis really a popular passion in Argentina or just one more band in the marketing gear of a global entertainment industry? Next Sunday, the Gallagher brothers will go for their biggest bragging act in this land: in their fourth visit to Buenos Aires in ten years, they will try to fill River Plate stadium and thus crown themselves with the title of "distinguished guests" as other long running artists did, including The Rolling Stones, Madonna, U2, The Police and The Ramones.
Did UK's largest British rock group of the last fifteen years finally manage to have their songs win over the Argentines on a massive scale as they did in the New World where they sold over 50 million copies of their albums? The posters around Buenos Aires announcing their concert at River appear to respond with a resounding yes to the question. Much more if one takes into account the special relationship that brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher have built with the country for a decade, an ant's work (and strategic marketing) which took them on visit after visit to horizons beyond their own call: two Luna Park shows for a total of 10,000 people in 1998, a show at the Campo Argentino de Polo in 2001 to 20,000 young people, as part of a festival with international artists, and at the same place, but with Oasis as the sole headliner of the day, before 40,000 fans in 2006.
By then, the popularity of the band in Argentina drew Q magazine's special attention , one of the most important in British scene, and together they traveled with a reporter and a photographer to cover "the Oasis phenomenon" including a photo shoot in the neighborhood of La Boca .
"It is hard to explain the Oasis phenomenon unless you see it by yourself. I can't speak for the Q journalist who traveled with us to Buenos Aires, but I think he was pleasantly surprised by what he encountered in those days," Noel told La Nacion in October 2006. "Argentina is a special place for us and there are few cities in the world which are similar to Buenos Aires, maybe some Italian, not much more: the public is totally crazy and loves football as much as we do," he concluded.
Alarm or promotion?
When the band announced on their MySpace that they would perform in the country one month ago, this time, in their words, " at the iconic and largest football stadium in Argentina, where the 1978 World Cup took place", many thought the stakes were dealt to high in the Gallaghers' hands.
To make matters worse, last week's alarming : "Tickets for the concert are not being sold yet as we expected," was rumored to be heard in the corridors of local promoters. A day later, Mario Pergolini echoed information of dubious provenance in his radio program Cual Es? and fired with sensationalism: "The show in Buenos Aires will be Oasis' last."
The news wires followed with the brother's usual phrases: that they no longer speak; Liam never knew Noel's 19 months old son; the band will take a break; and more and more and more.
Up until yesterday about 40,000 tickets for the show on Sunday were sold and no one predicts anything but a success.
Promotional strategy involving rock band split ups is nothing new and has been around since the Rolling Stones , but the Gallaghers took it a step further with visceral fights which sometimes ended up in cuffs while still riding the marketing wave: "When the record company released the greatest hits album in 2006, the Sony people thought it might be a good idea to announce that we were splitting, but I swear we didn't have anything to do," said Noel a couple of years ago.
By mere brutal honesty or precisely calculated plan, the fact is that Oasis did a good job in the south of America during the last decade. They first came to the country in 1998 at one of the highest points of their career (just published their third album, Be Here Now, the successor of super successful Definitely Maybe and (What's The Story) Morning Glory?)
They repeated the experience three years later, when they shared the bill with their idol Neil Young to promote their album "Don't Believe The Truth" (sic); in their last visit not only did they put on a show for 40,000 fans, but they also devoted an entire day to signing autographs in Musimundo (something unthinkable for a couple of grumpy folks like the Gallaghers) and in these ten years granted dozens of interviews for Argentine media every time they released a new album or announced a return visit.
This time Noel promised to speak with La Nacion face to face hours before the show on Sunday.
So, are the Gallaghers popular in Argentine or just pretend to be? Most likely, on Sunday, there will be a new name to add to the exclusive list of artists who filled the Nuñez's stadium's to capacity and Oasis will have won over one more country in that game they vowed to win when they first stepped on stage to conquer the world.