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Oasis Biography

Noel Gallagher's memories of his first Glastonbury Festival appearance in 1994 are episodic and intimate, like outtakes from a movie he'd wandered into. They're of things like taking possession of a backstage caravan from the band he'd once worked for as a roadie, and coming offstage to be told that Oasis's second UK single, Shakermaker, had climbed to number eleven in the chart; of someone from Creation Records being disappointed to fall short of the top ten while the band, having just heard their music soaring towards a horizon for the first time, now knew there would be no space they couldn't fill, were individually thrilled. Noel recalls having the astonishing intimation that the band's dreams were about to become true. Oasis were at the forefront of a new generation of British guitar groups who stepped out of the shadow of native dance culture and American grunge, with eyes fixed on the mainstream in a way that would have been unthinkable a few years before. 60,000 people went away from that first Glastonbury performance and told a million others about the thrill of what they'd seen: about this band who were the absolute primal essence of rock and roll, refined and distilled to ragged perfection - the impact of whose music, then as now, was so bafflingly much greater than the sum of its parts. We all went away knowing we'd seen something great and that the acts who followed Oasis that afternoon might as well not have bothered.

Liam formed the band. Noel never played in one until he came home from roadying for Inspiral Carpets and managed to persuade the four friends from the original lineup that he should join forces with them. Liam appears to have been born to his destiny as a rock star - his mother tells a story of him covering dropped lines in a nativity play with a spontaneous impression of Elvis - but Noel expected to be a builder like his dad. None of his mates were into music, but a first sighting of local boys The Smiths in 1984 turned his world upside down, with Liam equally besotted by The Stone Roses' legendary early Manchester shows, setting the seal on the brothers' musical ambitions a few years later.

The interesting thing about the story so far is that, throughout, the group's live audience continued to grow on a world-wide scale, perhaps because the brothers' triumphs and travails seemed to reflect our own as individuals. Just as they are a part of our story, we feel ourselves to be a part of theirs and perhaps the most revealing thing Noel Gallagher has ever said about the band came in response to a question concerning their lack of razzmatazz live, to which he replied simply that if you take the emphasis away from razzmatazz, the audience gets more involved with itself.' And now we seem to have entered a second phase. Their most recent album, Don't Believe The Truth, rightly heralded as a triumphant return, differs from its predecessors in that the writing is shared amongst the band. Liam continues to blossom and mature as a songwriter, while Gem Archer and Andy Bell have stepped forward with telling contributions and are making it increasingly hard to remember a time when they weren't around. Meanwhile, Noel's own tunes seem to be engaging with the world in a more direct way, almost as wry Information Age protest songs in some cases. Where this might lead, it's impossible to know, but anyone who saw 2005/06's world tour will have found Oasis looking and sounding as vital as at any time since '94.


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