‘People will never, ever forget, the way that we made them feel…’
There is an inherent snobbishness in the London centric music press about working class Northern bands that is not only unfair, it is dangerous. To dismiss millions of music fans as ignorant hooligans and to sneer at any musician for being loutish and uneducated is indicative of the way that the middle class throng, particularly the press, choose to portray the working classes.
Along with the bands they influenced, for example Courteeners and Kasabian, Oasis have bore the brunt of this kind of condescending, disdainful attitude but the fact that 4% of the population of England tried to buy tickets for Oasis’ historic Knebworth gigs is proof that the accusations of the Manchester band being somehow less important than a band like Radiohead say, is complete folly.
Oasis resonated with people in a way that no band since ever has, and as Noel points out in Supersonic, Mat Whitecross’ excellent documentary, it is unlikely that any band ever will again. Not in the same way. A phrase like ‘music for the people’ has been reduced to a trite, mawkish slogan that would be laughed out of the room in any London press office. But at their best Oasis captured the zeitgeist, that elusive feeling, the imagination of millions of disenfranchised youths and Northern upstarts, so often denied a voice before being patted on the head on their way to the dole queue.
To deny the power of what Oasis achieved is not only purposefully obtuse but it’s also fucking insulting. The insinuation is that because someone works in a supermarket and wouldn’t be seen dead at the opera that their art is somehow less important than those from a more privileged background. You know what? Fuck that. Oasis meant something. They meant something back then and they still mean something now and every late night party soundtracked by Definitely Maybe, and every guitar string plucked along to ‘Talk Tonight’, and every drop of sweat that smears a sweltering stage in a dimly lit Lancashire nightclub and every word of every endless conversation about whether you preferred Blur or Oasis that is currently taking place in backwater northern pubs, is proof. Proof that music matters. It means something. Music for the people? You’re fucking right it is. And we will take these songs and we will sing them loud and sing them proud, today, tomorrow, while ever we have enough air in our lungs to keep breathing and enough cigarettes and alcohol to keep dreaming.
Now that’s out of the way lets talk about the actual documentary. Mat Whitecross has lovingly crafted a fascinating insight into the three years between the recording and release of Definitely Maybe and those Knebworth gigs in 1996. Exhaustive interviews with the band, crew and various Gallagher’s are intertwined with never before seen backstage footage and archival interviews. Perhaps most insightful are the interviews with Peggy Gallagher, the mother of Liam and Noel, who is a genuinely fascinating orator.
In terms of revelation, Supersonic is a little thin on the ground but it captures the feeling of that crazy time and that wonderful band perfectly. It is a story for the ages and we will still be telling it years from today. Supersonic is not going to change perceptions of the working classes and it wont even change anybody’s mind about Oasis but for those of us that know, those of us that were there, those of us that still gather in kitchens at party’s to listen to The Masterplan, this documentary is essential. Don’t miss it.