Volume 91, Issue 62

Tuesday, January 20, 1998

Little Bo Greek


They're gettin' better, man

©All photos by Jamie Lynn/Gazette
"YOU WANNA FIGHT? YEAH, YOU GRANDMA!!" Those red-blooded Gallagher brothers, seen in performance at Thursday's Maple Leaf Gardens show, prove they'll fight anyone. They especially hate old ladies!

By Jamie Lynn

Gazette Staff

The boys in Oasis seem to enjoy stacking the cards against themselves. After spending a few years pissing off everyone from the Queen to Damon Alburn (Blur) and frequently cancelling their notoriously lacklustre gigs while telling everyone that they're the world's best band in the process – it seemed as though England's favourite bad boys were starting to annoy just about everyone. So when Oasis returned to North America this January for the first time since their ill-fated 1996 summer tour, expectations were high and the skeptics were many.

It seemed rather appropriate as the lights dimmed at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens last Thursday night that Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town" came blaring over the P.A. system. While previous Oasis shows have been consistently plagued with more high jinx than great music, Thursday's show proved to be an absolutely stellar musical event.

From the opening notes of "Be Here Now," it became immediately apparent that this was going to be no ordinary Oasis show. Lead singer Liam Gallagher was filled with his usual "piss and vinegar," but thankfully he didn't let it overcome his performance. His distinctive vocals were well delivered and more focused than in past performances.

The band seemed to barely allow the sold-out crowd to catch its breath as it quickly launched into new songs such as "Do Ya Know What I Mean?" and older crowd pleasures like "Supersonic" and "Cigarettes and Alcohol." Also, the surprisingly crisp Garden's sound helped make the band's sonic attack all the more powerful.

It was mid-show, however, that the performance really opted for a special approach. Noel Gallagher, armed only with a lone guitar, made his way mid-stage to perform a beautiful acoustic set. Noel, the band's primary songwriter, quickly made it very clear who is the true talent in the Gallagher family. While Liam helps give the band some excitement and vitality, Noel is a far superior and more engaging singer. His versions of "Don't Go Away" and "Whatever" gave the songs a new and more intimate feel than their original recordings. The addition of a song like "Talk Tonight" also provided a rare treat for fans of Oasis' lesser-known material.

When the rest of the band returned to the stage for the remainder of the show, absolutely no momentum was lost. "Live Forever" and "Champagne Supernova" were breathtaking, not to discount a wickedly booming version of the band's best new song, "Gettin' Better Man!"

If the evening had any disappointments, it would only be in a fairly uninspired performance of the band's must-play hit, "Wonderwall." With too much guitar noise and cranky Liam vocals, this number came up a little flat.

"Acquiescence" closed the show in fine form as the lads left the stage with a simple statement of "cheers." Unfortunately, encores aren't the band's strong suit and the show ended up running for only 90 minutes.

This is not to discount a fine performance from a band not known for a great live show. They still don't offer much in terms of stage movement, but the music's tremendous energy managed to make up for the difference. While Liam did throw his tambourine a couple times and antagonized a few front row fans, generally he seemed more under control on this outing. His occasional antics were more amusing and a lot less distracting than they have been in the past.

For a band that was on the verge of a break-up a little over a year ago, it was great to see a much-improved version of Oasis play such a fine set. Maybe one day they'll actually live up to their self-created hype. Thursday's performance was certainly a start.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998