Friday, 30 September 2016

Oasis 1994-1996


In April 1994, at the age of 18 years old (and 3-months) I saw Oasis for the first time. It was in the Tramway in Glasgow, supporting The Boo Radleys as part of Glasgow Sound City. It was the start of a love affair.

Like any love affair, there were highs, lows, wild nights, disappointments.... but from April 1994 through to Knebworth in August 1996, I went on the most incredible journey with a band that I have ever been on. It was a joyous romp with a band that just kept on giving, the only way was up - from the Tramway in Glasgow, in April 1994, to Knebworth in August 1996, it was like a dream.

Oasis were prolific, they just didn't let up, releasing 2 albums and 9 singles with b-sides that should have been on the albums. They played relentlessly, partied harder than anyone and generally lived it up. The press loved them - Liam's looks and attitude, Noel's talent, ambition and humour mixed with the rock n roll lifestyle, brotherly love and hate, meant that they were a media dream come true.


Everything culminated with two extraordinary nights at Knebworth in August 1996. Two huge nights, where Oasis blasted through their (already) formidable catalogue of songs.

A full list of singles, albums and key shows is listed at the end of this feature length blog. Lets have a look at the years 1994, 1995 and 1996 and my memories of them;

1994

The band released an incredible 5 singles - Supersonic, Shaker Maker, Live Forever, Cigarettes and Alcohol and Whatever. The b-sides got better as the band went on - Fade Away, Listen Up, It's Good To Be Free, Half the World Away....

And there was the glorious debut album Definitely Maybe that shot for the stars and smashed straight through them on course for the sun and beyond.

I was fortunate to see them on 5 occasions in 1994 - at the Tramway in April, at the Cathouse in June, in a packed tent at T in the Park in July and then twice at the Barrowland Ballroom in December. They were electrifying, Liam was charged, looking incredible, sounding even better and Noel knew everything was building, teasing the crowd by saying things like 'do you think we're any good?'

They were backed by a super tight band, Bonehead on rhythm guitar, Guigsy on bass and Tony McCarroll on drums. There were no lookers but in Bonehead and Guigsy they had complete loyalty and belief. Bonehead was told to only play barre chords, Guigsy may as well have only had 2 strings on his bass and McCarroll was the most basic of drummers, but this helped with the ferocious intensity that the band delivered when they arrived on the scene in 1994, creating a Burnage Wall of Sound.


That Wall of Sound was helped by finding the right producer at the right time. Oasis had been doing the rounds of producers but couldn't capture their ferocious live sound on tape. Owen Morris was the man to rectify that.

At the Tramway in Glasgow I could see Liam mucking about in the background before they took to the stage for a short set that was broadcast live on Radio 1. Live Forever already sounded like an anthem, Cigarettes and Alcohol was the Pistols meets T-Rex and Supersonic was like the Pistols meets the Mondays. I was hooked and bought a t-shirt and poster from the merch stall.

Two months later I queued up at the old Cathouse in Glasgow to see them again. I could hear them soundchecking as I waited outside. Some of us sang along, not only to the lyrics, but Noel's guitar lines as well. It felt like something special was happening.


Then I witnessed one of my all-time favourite gigs; Oasis playing a tent at T in the Park. It was absolutely rammed, they played football on stage, they were totally on the cusp. They were winning hearts and fans everywhere. This was just a week prior to the release of third single Live Forever. They were unstoppable.

Things were going crazy, all over the world. Noel left the band, rejoined and the band blitzed it.Oasis played over 100 gigs in 1994. They were everywhere. They wanted to break all over and they had the songs and attitude to do it.

I remember turning on the Evening Session on Radio 1 to hear them playing Sad Song and I was just blown away at it's dreamy beauty.

Where we're living in this town
The sun is coming up and it's going down
But we're all just the same at the end of the day


I bought all the singles on 7-inch and CD. For some reason I bought Definitely Maybe at Woolworths in Lanark and I remember chatting up the girl on the counter who was impressed I was buying it. I made mix-tapes of Noel's demos that came out on NME and Melody Maker cassettes along with live shows taped off the Evening Session.

It was exciting. I had been too young for the Roses. Now I had my band. This was their time, it was my time, it was our time.

Oasis returned to Glasgow in December to play the Barrowland Ballroom. Things didn't quite go to plan as Liam stormed off stage a few songs in after losing his voice. Noel played acoustic before the and joined him at the end.

I remember walking down the stairs to the cloakroom at the end and everyone was talking about how brilliant Noel was. His acoustic version of Slide Away was mesmerising. There was no doubt that Oasis was his band.

Noel urged everyone to keep their ticket stubs and they would be back. He was true to his word and shortly after Christmas Oasis returned with Liam in fine voice and full flow to play again. My brother had got a new pair of Adidas trainers and one came off when we were bouncing down the front. It was thrown on stage and Noel picked it up and said 'It had to be Adidas didn't it?'

What a year! In 8-months the band had released 5 singles that were effectively EP's due to the quantity and quality of music on them, culminating with the non-album stunner Whatever. Definitely Maybe flew off the shelves; Liam and Noel were icons. A nation was mad for it.

Memories of that year - finding my band, making new friends, attending 5 outstanding shows, singing anthems from the bottom of my heart and generally having an amazing time.

This is a link to a previous blog on Definitely Maybe. 

1995

Picture by Jill Furmanovsky

The Oasis juggernaut continued, picking up pace. 1995 began with a length tour of the USA before returning to the UK to play the Cliffs Pavillion in Southend, recorded for prosperity in the Live By The Sea film. A trip across the water to Paris effectively sealed drummer Tony McCarroll's departure from the band, although he stayed on to play the bands biggest show to date.

Sheffield Arena (see previous blog) was a strange choice for the first Oasis arena show. However it hit the mark, selling out and allowing them to make a huge statement in the same month (April 1995) that they gained their first (overdue) number one single with the euphoric Some Might Say.

April also saw the band play the first of two performances on the long gone and sadly missed White Room show. Music was everywhere on TV back in the mid-90's. Nowadays all we have is Later With Jools.

Noel singing Talk Tonight with his hero Paul Weller was a touching moment. The passing of the flame? Noel was certainly making good on his promise to release a single every few months like The Jam.

Check all Oasis' White Room performances on YouTube - sensational

Onwards, to Glastonbury, where Noel proceeded to make a duffel coat the must have fashion item that year. The band blitzed it, check this sensational version of Slide Away. Liam Gallagher's vocals were soulful, powerful and rock n roll. The band partied hard; Evan Dando and Robbie Williams tried to hang on, but no-one could keep up with the Gallagher brothers - on stage or off.


Summer continued with two shows in a tent at Irvine Beach in Scotland. I was in Magaluf on holiday at the time - sadly! Those that went speak of sweat dripping off the roof and the band threatening to blow the roof off.

Oasis in 1995 were an incredible live outfit, bolstered by the arrival of Alan White on drums, but battle hardened after over 100 shows in 1994 and straight into it again in 1995. Liam Gallagher's voice (see Slide Away above) at this stage was quite exceptional. Pure rock n roll, some said he was the missing link between Lennon and Lydon. Liam only turned 24 in September of 1995, he was the best rock singer in the world


Shows in Japan were reminiscent of Beatlemania and all roads led to Earls Court for two nights around the release of (What's The Story) Morning Glory? 

Prior to this though, we had the Britpop battle between Oasis and Blur surrounding the release of Roll With It and Parklike in August. It was nuts, 1995 was a great time to be a teenager. Music was everywhere. Blur won the battle but Oasis won the war. Nothing could stop them.


October 1995 was the month were Oasis truly went Supersonic. They delivered the follow up to Definitely Maybe in the shape of Morning Glory, played 2 sensational shows at Earls Court and also released Wonderwall.

Wonderwall went crazy. Yet somehow it never made it to number one! Kept off the top spot by Robson and Jerome - housewives favourites. It didn't matter, this was number one in so many peoples hearts.

I have a fond memory around this time of driving from Carluke to Lanark with my friend Dave to drop something off at one of his work mates houses. His mate didn't exactly stay in the best part of Lanark. It was rough to say the least. The sun was shining, it must have been an Indian Summer, windows and doors were open all down the street. And What's The Story Morning Glory? seemed to be coming out of all of them.

We pulled up at Dave's mates and She's Electric was blasting out of his house. It was incredible, driving through this estate and listening to Oasis coming at us from all angles.

Oasis were leaving everyone else in their dust. They had The Masterplan, Acquiesce, Round Are Way, Rockin' Chair and Talk Tonight as b-sides!


Memories of 1995 - Sheffield Arena doesn't seem like 21-years ago! Watching a band go stratospheric and strapping in for the ride with them was an incredible buzz. The songs, releases, clothes, haircuts, shows, TV appearances, radio and magazine interviews, the laughs, the craziness, nights out and in being soundtracked by Oasis....the band truly did come along at the right moment in my life.


1996


Where could it go from there? The answer, was even higher, further and faster....for a time.

Wonderwall was still everywhere, helped by a cover version by Mike Flowers Pops. Remember that? There was brilliant pre-internet rumour that his version was in fact the original and Noel had covered it. It doesn't deserve to be posted, but here is a link just in case you fancy it.

Building on a phenomenal 1995, Oasis released the emotional epic Don't Look Back In Anger in February. This Noel sung heartstring puller won them even more fans. The melodic Wonderwall was rooted in Noel's love for The Beatles and Don't Look Back In Anger took it one step further by cheekily starting with the chords of Lennon's Imagine. The Brian Cannon and Microdot cover was also a nod to the story of The Beatles decking out Ringo's kit in flowers after he walked out on the band at one point.

Noel had reportedly given Liam the choice between singing Wonderwall or Don't Look Back In Anger and Noel's voice really suits the sky scraping chorus of the latter. He also ended up singing Wonderwall live on many occasions, sadly I have never heard a version of Don't Look Back In Anger with Liam on lead vocals.


So by early 1996 (from April 1994) Oasis had released 2 albums, 9 singles/EP's and played well over 200 shows; not to mention the countless media interviews, TV shows and acoustic sessions. The media loved them, the Gallagher brothers sold copies of the NME, Melody Maker, Select, Vox, Q, Record Collector, Loaded, FHM...... by the bucketload.


There was no let up; in early 1996 I travelled through to Edinburgh to see Oasis play Ingleston Exhibition Centre. There seemed to be a different mood about the night than previous shows I had attended. Talk of Hibs, West Ham and Aberdeen casuals meeting for a fight filtered the air. There seemed to be a sense that it was all going to kick off in the crowd. Thankfully it didn't and the Oasis rocket kept soaring.

There were shows in Germany and America but everything was now gearing towards 2 nights at Maine Road, home of the brothers beloved Manchester City.

Noel walked on stage with his arms aloft to huge applause before strapping on his Union Jack guitar and I can't have been the only person that went out and bought a Penfield jacket immediately after reading reviews and checking pictures in the NME.


Liam looked positively scruffy by comparison, wearing jogging bottoms and an umbro training top pulled over a shirt on the second night. Somehow we was still cool as f**k, especially heading him scream 'Manchester, are you mad for it?' when it came out on DVD.

It was pure celebration, they had the best songs, they had the best songwriter, the best front man and now they wanted to be the biggest. What could they do next?


The answer was to do something that even a year previously would have seemed quite unthinkable - 2 huge shows at Balloch Country Park near Loch Lomond in Scotland and 2 monumental shows (125,000 capacity) at Knebworth in England - scene to previous historical concerts by the likes of Queen and Zeppelin.

But then an 'indie' band (Noel always dismissed this term - they were rock n roll) playing two stadium shows would have seemed unthinkable. Oasis has crossed over and now they were going to prove it.

You can read all about my Knebworth experience in this 20th anniversary blog

Knebworth remains one of the best musical experience of my time. The whole excitement surrounding getting tickets, travelling down, the size of the place, the blag to get into the front pit and witnessing an astonishing and historic performance close up.


How could they follow Knebworth?

Many could reasonably argue that they never did and maybe they should have split. Leave a perfect legacy.

Certainly they couldn't keep up the pace. Something had to give. Cracks appeared when Liam turned up for MTV Unplugged at the Royal Festival Hall drunk and incapable of singing, leaving Noel to turn in a remarkable unrehearsed performance while his brother heckled him from the box,

Liam then pulled out of the Oasis American tour with the very un rock n roll excuse that he had to find a house to live in with wife Patsy Kensit.


From 1994, and even before - really from their King Tut's show where Alan McGee saw them and signed them on the spot (read eye witness account by Boyfriend drummer HERE) things had been going crazy; it was all up, up, up; all high, high, high. The resulting crash was probably predictable and crash they did. No-one could keep up that pace forever, they needed time out.

So Liam was probably right to take time to go and find a house and to stop the bandwagon rolling. In my opinion it took until the Heathen Chemistry album in 2002 to get back to full form and back on track.

Regardless - Oasis in 1994-1996 were truly Supersonic. I'm so glad to have been there while they were getting high, to have been 18-20, to have been to the shows, to have bought the records, to have experienced something that Liam has described in the trailer to the Supersonic documentary as 'f**king Biblical man'.

It was.



Albums

Definitely Maybe
Rock n Roll Star, Shaker Maker, Live Forever, Up In The Sky, Columbia, Supersonic, Bring It On Down, Cigarettes and Alcohol, Digsy's Dinner, Slide Away, Married With Children

Sad Song (bonus track on the vinyl release)

(What's the story) Morning Glory?
Hello, Roll With It, Wonderwall, Don't Look Back In Anger, Hey Now, (untitled), Some Might Say, Cast No Shadow, She's Electric, Morning Glory, Untitled, Champagne Supernova

Bonehead's Bank Holiday (bonus track on the vinyl release)

Singles

Supersonic
b/w Take Me Away, I Believe (live), Columbia (White Label demo)

Shaker Maker
b/w D'Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?, Alive (8-track demo), Bring It On Down (live)

Live Forever
b/w Up In The Sky (acoustic), Cloudburst, Supersonic (live)

Cigarettes and Alcohol
b/w I Am The Walrus (live), Listen Up, Fade Away

Whatever
b/w (It's Good) To Be Free, Half The World Away, Slide Away

Some Might Say
b/w Talk Tonight, Acquiesce, Headshrinker

Roll With It
b/w It's Better People, Rockin' Chair, Live Forever (live from Glastonbury 95)

Wonderwall
b/w Round Are Way, The Swamp Song, The Masterplan

Don't Look Back In Anger
b/w Step Out, Underneath The Sky, Cum On Feel The Noize

Key gigs


1994
24/03 100 Club London - Oasis stamp their mark on London
07/04 Tramway, Glasgow - Going out live on Radio 1, the band also give a famous interview to the NME that is later released as the Wibbling Rivalry 7-inch single
26/06 Glastonbury - Oasis take to the mid-afternoon slot like superstars, with Liam and Noel in shades
31/07 T in the Park, Hamilton - One of my all time favourite gigs, Liam and Noel pack out the tent and play football on stage
09/08 Riverside, Newcastle - Noel is attacked on stage as Oasis 'mania' takes hold.
05/09 Hacienda, Manchester - The band return to Manchester
Sept - Japanese tour - Oasis mania really does take hold
Liam on tour in Japan 1994

29/09 The Whiskey A Go Go, Los Angelese - Liam destroys a gig after being up all night doing crystal meth. Noel promptly leaves the band.
15/10 Metro, Chicago - Many close to Oasis cite this as their favourite show or live recording of the band
07/12 Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow - Liam storms off stage after losing his voice leaving Noel to finish the show on his own and then with the band. Noel promises they will return.
27/12 Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow - The band are true to their word and if you kept your ticket stub you got back in to witness a sensational performance.

1995
17/07 Cliffs Pavillion, Southend - recorded for the Live By The Sea video
20/04 Bataclan, Paris -
22/04 Sheffield Arena, Sheffield - Oasis first UK arena show, Noel plays Don’t Look Back In Anger
23/06 Glastonbury -
14 and 15/07 Irvine Beach - 2 shows in a tent on Irvine Beach
5 and 5/11 Earls Court, London - incredible shows with The Bootleg Beatles supporting

1996
22 and 23/03 The Point Depot, Dublin - The Sun nearly cause a riot by trying to 'reunite' Noel and Liam with their Dad
27 and 28/03 Maine Road, Manchester - Liam takes to the stage in trackies and an umbro top!
03 and 04/08 Loch Lomond - the warm ups to Knebworth and a Scottish celebration
10 and 11/08 Knebworth - biblical!
23/08 Royal Festival Hall, London (Noel Unplugged)



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