Graham Reid | | 2 min read
When Oasis, out of Manchester, started to gain real momentum a decade ago one wag wrote to a Britrock magazine and said this was all very well, but they were dull to watch live: just hold a postcard of them at arm's length and move it about a bit, he said, and that's about it.
That was true but he forgot to factor in one thing, that they could also be thrilling.
We didn't see them at their best in New Zealand but I caught them in Birmingham in November 95 at their peak and they had me dancing like a demented chimp, (see the set list).
That afternoon after the soundcheck I interviewed Noel Gallagher in the dressing room where he'd pinned up letters from fans and some Beatle pictures. He was witty and ambitious, spoke about wanting to be a "proper band" - by which he meant they needed to have the stamina to undertake gruelling tours of America.
Brother Liam ambled by in a goofy manner, all half-closed eyes and swagger, but very friendly also.
They looked on top of the world - and they should have been.
Oasis had delivered a brilliant debut album in 1994 with Definitely Maybe. And despite them having lost momentum in the past decade (and making pretty woeful albums which Noel always acclaims as their best then disavows a year later), the sheer head-rush of that career milestone comes back in all its noisy glory with the Definitely Maybe 10th anniversary DVD which manages to stack in four hours of footage of interviews and live videos of every track.
From the opener Rock'n'Roll Star, Noel Gallagher nailed his colours up for all to hear: "I live my life in the city, there's no easy way out tonight, I'm a rock'n'roll star".
The interviews with former and current band members, Creation label boss Alan McGee, manager Marcus Russell, guitar techs and friends are illuminating: Noel saying that the line "we've seen things they'll never see" on the anthemic Live Forever encapsulated his relationship with brother Liam who comes off throughout as typically moronic, but a man of considerable head-butting charm and dry humour.
The whole torturous process of recording the album is revealed, and there are alternative versions of the videos, clips from early live shows and from their television appearances. It's also a DVD that requires you to explore and discover hidden treats. (Liam saying he wanted bagpipes on Rock'n'Roll Star!)
It is also a reminder of the uncompromising, non-working class ethic which drove the band and the album. As manager Russell says of an album which had songs as connected with its audience as Cigarettes and Alcohol: "It personified what a lot of kids were feeling and thinking at that time."
And it still sounds a powerful and brilliant album of something as unfashionable as brainless, rocks-off rock'n'roll.