BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene blog
It starts and ends at Knebworth, the site of one of England’s most legendary music festivals, and the location where, in 1996, Oasis commanded an audience of more than a quarter of a million fans.
In the two years prior, the band anchored by a pair of the most intriguing characters to share a stage, brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher, catapulted from playing in cramped rehearsal rooms to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world.
The two-hour documentary, “Oasis: Supersonic,” receives its U.S. bow on Wednesday, where it will screen in theaters nationwide. Locally, you can catch it at 7 and 9:30 p.m. at Midtown Art Cinema (ticket info below).
Here are five things we learned from the film:
- The boys’ mother, Peggie Gallagher, observed that Noel was always in his room with paper and pen, strumming his guitar while Liam “was a devil” (which she says affectionately). Noel, who is now regarded as one of the finest songwriters of his generation, initially served as Oasis’ guitar tech, showing little interest in being on stage. But once the other band members realized the potency of his material, it became apparent that he had to join. Don’t miss the early incarnation of “All Around the World” performed in that dingy rehearsal space.
- The band’s soaring popularity extended to Japan, where girls flung themselves at the Gallaghers as if they were modern-day Beatles (the band whose music is, of course, always an undercurrent in Oasis’ sound). But cracking America proved a challenge and the band didn’t help itself with a disastrous first show in Los Angeles. A couple of nights prior to the gig, they misidentified crystal meth as cocaine, ingested copious amounts and didn’t sleep until showtime. “It was a shambles,” one Gallagher astutely noted of their rambling Whiskey-A-Go-Go debut
- While there are many stories of physical fights between the Gallagher brothers (Noel admits to almost smashing in Liam’s head with a cricket bat, studios are destroyed, tambourines flung across the stage), they’re treated with a wink and a smile. These are the Gallaghers, after all. But the documentary turns appropriately serious and intensely personal when Peggie Gallagher recounts the abuse she and Noel suffered at the hands of her husband (Liam wonders why his father never laid a hand on him). “You can’t let that kind of thing affect you,” Noel says, wryly noting that his father’s behavior often sent him running to his room, where he would lock himself in with his guitar. “In some way, my father beat the talent INTO me.”
- Considering the executive producers of the film – along with Noel and Liam – are Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees, who steered the Oscar-winning Amy Winehouse documentary, “Amy,” there is an abundance of exceptional concert footage. Oasis’ spacious guitar rockers – perfect for mimicking in front of the bedroom mirror – are sprinkled throughout (“Cigarettes and Alcohol,” “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” “Supersonic,” “Champagne Supernova”). As well, so is the Gallaghers’ favorite verb and adjective, so be warned if language bothers you.
- Despite the joy at the incredible accomplishment of attracting 250,000 people to their concert at Knebworth, there is melancholic vibe coating the experience. “It felt like the end of something instead of the beginning,” Liam recalls. He later makes the astute observation that Oasis’ prime years were “before the birth of the Internet” and reminds viewers that, “It’s no coincidence that things like that don’t happen anymore,” referring to the inclusive gathering of so many people engaging in one shared, undistracted event. While Noel thinks that perhaps Oasis “should have disappeared in a puff of smoke” following that triumphant Knebworth concert, most fans are thinking the opposite – that we want to see the continuation of this story.
7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at Midtown Art Cinema
Tickets: $15 (purchase here).
Check out the trailer for the film: