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Thursday, June 04, 2009
The Oasis Dog and Pony Show.... ?
AH, summer. Gloriously long, light evenings, when all you want to do is go for a stroll and enjoy the sweet, balmy air. Particularly, if, like me you have a magnificent facility like Heaton Park on your doorstep.
Unfortunately, when my friend Rona and I decided to head there the other evening, we were met by locked gates and an admittedly pleasant security guard, who told us we weren't allowed access.
Yes, it's local residents out, Gallaghers in, as Oasis tonight pitch up in Heaton Park for the first of three concert dates on its rolling greenery.
I've been smouldering about this ever since I first heard that Liam and his band of merry men were planning to play in my beloved park. And I'm not a lone voice. Mention the concerts to anyone locally, and before you can say Wonderwall, you'll feel the gale-force invective of residents horrified that some 70,000 - 70,000! - fans a night will be taking to the quiet streets of Prestwich.
Heaton Park is a wonderful municipal resource, not only for locals like me, but for the people of Manchester and beyond. So why on earth have Oasis been given permission to stage huge concerts here?
Now I'm not some antiquated killjoy and have nothing personally against the band. Even with their shoplifted Beatles riffs, the boys can turn in a good tune.
I also accept that open spaces like Heaton Park can be harnessed for huge public events. After all, I remember when the Pope celebrated mass in the park back in 1982. I still recall the atmosphere both on the day itself and the night before when the air seemed flavoured with a carnival spirit and sense of optimism.
But though Noel Gallagher may think he's god, I'm afraid the Oasis dog and pony show represents a new league of disruption. First of all, I imagine the band will attract a rather different type of punter. (When my best friend went to an Oasis concert she reported that fans expressed their appreciation by hurling bottles of urine - filled during a moment of reflection when a trip to the loo seemed too much effort.)
Aside from the noise, the litter, and the shed loads of booze-flushed Gallagher lovers flooding through our streets til the early hours, tanked up on cigarettes and alcohol, why was it necessary in the first place?
If Oasis are bored with playing football stadiums, then why not do something for urban regeneration and pick a piece of derelict wasteland, perhaps on the edge of a deprived area. Yes, there may still be mess afterwards but if the land was fairly neglected in the first place, cleaning it up and improving the landscape could kill two birds with one stone and leave some kind of legacy for the locals.
Around 800 security guards are being deployed to ensure rampaging youth don't get too over enthusiastic and hit - or throw - the bottle when Liam invites us to Roll With It. For three nights only, Prestwich becomes gangland Chicago.
Still, perhaps it's not too late to plead for those who are going to the concerts to ensure they have a joyful and peaceful experience. Fans may love their Oasis, but Heaton Park has always been mine. As for the future, will Manchester city council remember how lucky we are to have a facility like Heaton Park. When the Gallaghers are long gone, and holed up in a London des res counting their cash, let's hope we locals don't continue to count the cost.
Another reason these concerts drive me mad
WHILE on the subject of Oasis, it also hasn't escaped the notice of some locals that tonight's concert clashes with polling day. Since there are many Jewish people living in and around Heaton Park, the need to ensure a vote to keep the BNP out is particularly acute.
Pity then if access to some polling stations is blocked by parking restrictions because of the Oasis concert or by fans driving to the event and clogging up residential roads for miles around.
Nick Griffin and his BNP cohorts are, to quote David Cameron, a bunch of Nazi thugs. It's terrifying that apathy and a disenchanted electorate may give them a chance. Even worse if they get a leg up because punters want to get to a rock concert.
vie L4e / manchestereveningnews.co.uk
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