Firstly, I know how stereotypical it is for a guy who grew up in Manchester in the 90’s to like Oasis. I get it. It’s not news that many people from Manchester like that band, nor will it ever be surprising to hear a Manc mention them or request that the DJ play ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ at the end of a club night. That being said, the band has, for better or for worse, had a massive effect on my life that I’m only now coming to realise. I’m not just talking about buying all of their albums (which I did) or having that long-ish unkempt hair cut that so many Manchester kids had/have (which I do), I’m talking about realising that this band’s music has been present throughout my life. It’s a good job I like the band, because otherwise the past 24 years would have been a nightmare!
One of my first ever memories of music is of when I was about 6 or 7. My Dad had bought ‘Morning Glory’ and ‘Be Here Now’ and was playing them through the speakers in the lounge. I guess I must have been interested by the music on some level because I remember just sitting down with my back to the glass cabinet that housed the huge early-90’s CD-player contraption and reading the lyrics in the album booklet during each song. I remember liking the cover of ‘Be Here Now’ too, with it’s collection of random items in-and around a swimming pool.
A few years later, I picked up a guitar for the first time. I didn’t have a teacher or anyone to show me what to do, so I taught myself using books and the internet. The first songs that I learned how to play were ‘Good Riddance’ by Green Day, ‘Dammit’ by Blink-182 and ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis. Oasis songs are great for someone teaching themselves guitar because most of them have a good pace and they mainly use some pretty simple chords. I would sit in my room all evening strumming away on my brother’s Yamaha acoustic, belting out the lyrics to ‘Live Forever’. My singing was, and still is, terrible.
The only other one of my friends to really get into learning guitar was my friend Todd. We started going to each other’s houses occasionally and ‘having a jam’. (Note: In this case, the term ‘having a jam’ means ‘learning to play every Oasis song we could thing of’). I particularly remember us learning to play ‘Columbia’ (which consists of about 3 chords for the entire song) and just repeating it over and over again. Todd was always much better at guitar than me so he would take the lead guitar parts whilst I sat quite happily, repeating my chord set again and feeling like a rock star.
When I had a grasp on a few basic Oasis songs, me and Todd, along with our drummer friend Jordan, entered into our school’s talent contest called ‘The K Factor’ (A play on ‘The X Factor’, with our school’s name beginning with the letter K… Very witty, very klever). Well, we actually entered into it separately with me performing ‘Slide’ by Goo Goo Dolls on my own and Todd performing ‘Wonderwall’ on his own. The music department ‘did a Louie Walsh’ and joined us together into what I like to think of as a super group. We decided to play ‘Wonderwall’ as it was the more recognisable of the two songs and it went down great! Everyone loved it. I reckon we only didn’t win because the winner was a music student and the judges were from the music department. Conspiracy!
[Shortly after mine and Todd’s performance on ‘The K-Factor’, a few of the teachers tried to do a song. This is what happened.]
Despite not winning, I carried on teaching myself guitar, moving on to other bands and other genres. I remember one day in particular, when I was sat on my bed playing my acoustic and messing around with some chords, I wrote this amazing chord progression using just some basic major chords. I was so proud of myself, until I realised that I had just re-written ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’. I’m a genius! (Or, I had just happened to play the 6 chords I knew in an order which happened to be the same as that song, which is more likely!) Since then, I’ve learned that ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ borrowed that same chord progression from Pachelbel’s ‘Canon In D’ (as does ‘Whatever’, and many other pop songs), it borrows the nice piano intro from John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and the last chorus lead guitar riff from Mott The Hoople’s ‘All The Young Dudes’, so I’m less bothered about accidentally re-writing it now! Despite being a franken-song, it’s still completely awesome.
One of the first major gigs I went to was Oasis. They played two evening gigs at the City Of Manchester Stadium (as it was then known), over a weekend in July 2005. I’d been to a couple of gigs before, but this was the first one that I went to with a big bunch of mates. We were 16/17 and (albeit illegally) just starting to be able to get served for alcohol, so we had plenty of beer and stood crammed like sardines on the plastic-covered pitch of City’s ground. The gig was incredible, they had about 4 support acts and played such a long set. It was pretty much a day-long gig! Despite being surrounded by their intimidating gig-going fans, who mainly consisted of older thugs who knew them from Burnage as kids, and despite people peeing into cups (because they literally couldn’t get out to go to the loo) and throwing the cups all over the place (seriously), we had such a good time. If you go to a gig where you’re in danger of being covered in Manc chav piss and still have fond memories of the experience, it must have been a top show. I can’t remember much of the setlist, other than them ending with an encore cover of ‘My Generation’ by The Who and then a 10+ minute version of ‘Rock N Roll Star’, where they repeated the “It’s just rock and roll…” bit at the end for ages, whilst casino graphics played across the stage. Loved it.
[Here’s the Last.fm page for that gig!]
Around the age of 17/18, I first started going out in Manchester. I soon began to realise that Manchester bars and clubs love playing Oasis. With Manchester’s famous indie club ‘5th Avenue’ being one of the first clubs I was able to get into (without any ID), closing time became synonymous with ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ (Or, occasionally, ‘Hey Jude’). Everyone would get themselves onto the sticky dancefloor and stand swaying and singing along, with their arm round the person next to them. Despite the sweaty, seedy atmosphere of 5th Ave, that song always made the night end on a happy note.
Then it became time for me to grow up and do something with my life, so I went to a university. I went to Durham Uni (to begin with) and a strange thing happened whilst I was there. The university itself was up in the north, near Scotland, but because of it’s prestigious status, it was mainly full of students from the south (‘The Oxbridge Rejects’ as I liked to refer to them). Being away from Manchester and being surrounded by southerners made me realise how much I loved my home town. And with that love came a devotion to Oasis and everything they released. I had their poster on my wall in my tiny halls of residence bedroom, played their albums loudly on my laptop and began learning even more of their songs on that old Yamaha guitar again (much to the chagrin of my hall-mates). It was the first time I loved a band and knew exactly why: Oasis reminded me of home, my family and my friends.
Durham wasn’t for me and I ended up coming back to Manchester in the end. Since then, the Oasis releases slowed and then came to a complete stop when they broke up in 2009/2010. Whilst my devotion to their music is now more of a simmering flame than a roaring fire, it’s still there and I’m still warmed by their music whenever I hear it. Noel and Liam went on to form their post-Oasis bands ‘High-Flying Birds’ (which are pretty decent) and ‘Beady Eye’ (not as decent), respectively. I heard from a respectable source recently that the whole ‘break-up’ thing was most likely staged because they both fancied doing something new for a bit (which is fair enough) and their reunion as Oasis is imminent – probably even as early as 2014. Despite them not being a huge part of my musical life any more, if they do re-form, you can guarantee I’ll be first buying their new album on release day!
Just because I’m in the Oasis-mood as I’m writing this, here’s the list of my top 10 favourite Oasis songs:
10. She’s Electric
9. Married With Children
8. The Importance Of Being Idle
4. Champagne Supernova
3. Don’t Look Back In Anger
2. Cigarettes & Alcohol
1. The Masterplan – This is just a perfect song. The chord progression is iconic, the backwards guitar solo is hauntingly good, the lyrics are great, the bass-line in the intro is awesome, the string and brass arrangements are fantastic. The overall composition of this song is just perfect and really shows how talented a songwriter Noel Gallagher can be. The L.S. Lowry-inspired music video is an amazing homage to Manchester, which makes it even better for me! I even love the quiet voice over the outro, which is actually Noel singing ‘Octopuses Garden’ by The Beatles in a weird voice! I can’t believe this was a B-Side. I remember a Noel Gallagher quote someone told me regarding The Masterplan. His manager (or someone) told him that this song was “too good” to be a B-Side. Noel replied with “Well, I don’t write shit songs.”
Some Might Say
Stand By Me
Don’t Go Away
Little By Little
Part Of The Queue
Rock N Roll Star
(…And so many more!)
Album Highs & Lows:
Highs: Definitely Maybe, Morning Glory, Don’t Believe The Truth.
Lows: Be Here Now (only maybe 3 good songs), Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants.