(Fox Theatre, Detroit, MI – 08/21/02)
Rubbing my hands with glee at the prospect of yet another musical night at the hands of my fellow Brit superstars, I have to admit that counting the time down until Liam G. exploded into one of his infamous rants kept me like a time bomb ready to explode ! In fact, I had to wait nearly the entire length of the show before he eventually got into it with a front row mouthy git ! But, more of that later.
As the packed house eagerly awaited the appearance of the holy twins, written in huge white letters atop a black curtain draped behind the drums, the simple word ‘Exist’ became mysteriously illuminated. Not more than two minutes later, as the lights darkened and the roar of the crowd deepened, the music begins with the instrumental backing track ’Fuckin’ In The Bushes’ from the heavily underrated Standing on the Shoulder of Giants album. As it begins to come to its natural end, the band walk out on stage one by one. Bassist Gem Archer is quickly followed by both guitarist Andy Bell and drummer Alan White, before a casually strolling Noel and Liam make up the numbers. Liam is greeted as if he is royalty, which is funny as that’s exactly the way he thinks of himself, and without seemingly a ‘welcome everybody’ thought in his head, goes straight to the center stage mic, arches his back into his infamous upward-singing pose and breaks into the opening lyrics of the song now in full flow: ’Hello’ from the excellent (What’s The Story) Morning Glory album of ’95. FYI: Liam actually had the songs complete lyrics written out and taped on the stage down by his left foot just in case he forgot any of the words !
As you would have expected a lot of tonight’s material came from their new album, the questionable (and that’s being rather polite) Heathen Chemistry. Next up for the masses was quite possibly the top cut from the album ’Hindu Times’ and ’Hung In A Bad Place’ before we strolled into the Standing on the Shoulder of Giants album once again with ’Go Let It Out. Strange choice to play live ’Columbia’ from Definitely Maybe was next up with new tracks ’Stop Crying Your Heart Out’ and ’Little By Little’ following closely behind.
By now we were halfway through the show and not a word had been uttered by anyone on stage ! Not that that in itself was a surprising fact as anyone that knows Oasis knows full well that they are all about stage presentation and not about audience interaction. Indeed, they literally bounced from one song to the next without so much a glance at each other let alone the baying masses ! Occasionally Liam would wander off and let his younger brother sing a little ditty, or he himself would prowl the stage, half-cut tambourine jangling away in his right hand, nothing more than a mourned funeral version of an expression embroidered across his face.
Taking the show through its second half the boys from Manchester, England – a video screen backdrop constantly replaying b/w studio shots of the band or obscure b/w and color artsy flashes of butterflies and such - fired out two known gems in both ’Cigarettes and Alcohol’ and ’Live Forever’ before new songs ’Better Man,’ the Noel-sung ’Force of Nature’ and ’Born on a Different Cloud’ take us to the finale track of the set from their obscure Masterplan album, ’Acquiesce’.
But, as expected there was more to come as not more than three minutes later Noel sauntered back on stage and performed an acoustic version of the worldwide hit, ’Wonderwall’. Finally laying the demons of his past behind him Noel performed the song for the first time since his split from ex-wife Meg Mathews. The Oasis star had vowed never to play again the hit song he wrote about Meg after she dragged their divorce through the courts. It was halfway through the number – and in reference to the crowds baying of her nickname - that Noel actually decided to string a sentence together and aim it at the crowd: ”I don’t give a fuck if you all wanna 'moo' ! I’m still gonna fuckin’ play it” ! Trust me, without a word of any concern throughout the entire show, this was quite a profound and journalistic phrase to have been made and captured ! But, as would have it, two males in the front row suddenly got a little angry with each other and a mini-fight broke out, which provoked Noel to comment further, ”How can you two idiots fight to fuckin’ ‘Wonderwall’ of all songs ?”
Point taken, but the fuse had been well and truly lit for as Liam strolled back on for ’Don’t Look Back In Anger’ of all tunes, these two guys obviously had some words of their own for him. Directing a stream of abuse at the Oasis front man, Liams temper remained well under control (shock #2), his only outburst in the form of telling them both from Noel’s mic that they were both ”fuckin’ idiots” and in complete mock sarcasm that he was “shakin’ with fear”. The latter statement now backed up with a visual of him walking backwards toward his mic, his eyes still buried on them both, his hands and arms faking a shaking bout of fright ! Man, in the old days he’d have thrown water bottles at them, spat at them, and quite possibly dived in and had a one-to-one with them !! Trust me, I know from personal experience that Liam G. could once be wound to the highest levels of shock value at the drop of a hat !
Taking the show into the final laps, Oasis continued to sing songs from (What’s The Story) Morning Glory) by making the trio of encore songs complete with ’Some Might Say’ before closing the gig with a quite brilliant version of The Who’s ’My Generation’ - the video backdrop now akimbo with British flags and Mod symbols of all shapes and sizes. Welcome back, Oasis. It’s been far too long without you !
Reviewed & Photos by Russell A. Trunk