Oasis Knebworth 1996 reminds us of the glory days of the Gallagheres
The most memorable scenes from Oasis Knebworth 1996 have almost nothing to do with Noel and Liam Gallagher or their sultry Britpop. Jake Scott’s documentary of Oasis’ historic concerts in the 125,000-seat hall is complemented by testimonials from fans who have made the long journey to the Hertfordshire estate to watch history unfold. And it is these reminiscences which, delivered 25 years apart, leave the strongest impression.
An Oasis fan reveals he was about to leave for Knebworth when his eight-month-old girlfriend told him she was pregnant. Another recalls standing next to her boyfriend, drinking hot lager beer from a plastic cup while singing over Champagne Supernova. Was it as good as life, she wondered? Maybe it was.
Oasis are of course the stars of this concise two-hour film that shakes up many scenes from familiar concert documentaries. We see Oasis arriving in Knebworth by helicopter, speechless at the sprawling crowd towards the horizon. And we watch them take to the hall, singing hits like Live Forever and Don’t Look Back In Anger in front of a combined audience of 250,000 people.
Noel and Liam Gallagher may not be on good terms right now – but they have reunited to co-produce the documentary. Noel also comes in with voiceover comments, explaining, for example, that Oasis stayed up until 7 a.m. to party two days before the first Knebworth to make sure they had a good night’s sleep. sleep the day before the concert. And rhythm guitarist Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs confesses his disbelief when John Squire of the Stones joins the band for Champagne Supernova.
Inviting Squire was Noel Gallagher’s way of recognizing where Oasis came from. He also paid tribute when Oasis came to Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork a few days later, where he played Cast No Shadow with an acoustic guitar owned by Rory Gallagher.
Not that Noel could be accused of excessive humility. Oasis was not taking over from John Squire, he said. They had already taken hold of it two years before with their first sequence of hits.
Fans of Oasis will be encouraged to learn that Gallagher has not lost his boast. But for Gallagher agnostics, the real fun of this film is how it evokes a region long gone.
As the camera pans over Knebworth, it’s hard not to notice what’s missing. There are no phones, no one is tweeting or Instagram. They are all blown away in the moment in ways that a quarter of a century later would be simply unthinkable.
- Oasis Knebworth 1996 hits theaters Thursday, September 23. Oasis Knebworth 1996 live album and DVD / Blu-ray to be released on November 19