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Oasis @ Kings Dock Arena

Ben Patey gets drenched in Oasis enthusiasm. Or is it warm Carling?

Published on October 15th 2008.

Oasis @ Kings Dock Arena

THE year is 1994. In Seattle, Kurt Cobain's suicide note marks the end of one musical era while, across the water, another musical epoch has begun. Guitar music is enjoying a renaissance and Suede, Blur and Pulp are contributing to the flood of resurgence. But it's four mouthy Mancs that are generating the biggest waves. Something is in the air.

All of a sudden, grown men are arching their spines, arms behind their backs, and singing into microphones that aren't there. People 400 miles from Maine Road are claiming to be mad fer it.

Since Definitely Maybe was released 14 years ago, the Oasis story has, at times, read like a soap script. However, even between the wives, lovers, paparazzi scraps, sibling squabbles and member shuffles, there are certain things, on the surface at least, that remain invariable.

And so to last night at the Kings Dock Arena. After an introduction from Ricky Hatton in which he made reference to the recent stage attack on Noel Gallagher ("If anyone jumps on the stage you'll have me to deal with") a silhouette swaggers onto the stage, hand clutching a tambourine.

For a minute or two, Liam Gallagher just stands with his arms crossed surveying the adulation. These are his people and he knows it.

As soon as Rock n Roll Star kicks in, the place is bouncing, although “bouncing” is probably not an energetic enough word to describe the mayhem in the arena. Plastic beer cups are tossed through the air, women are flashing their breasts, people are already crowd-surfing and Abi from the Zutons is singing along, to the side of the stage, as the first elongated “sunsheeine” is sung.

The new drummer is a Merseyside lad, and he seems to be as confident on the sticks as anyone who came before. On keyboards, Jay Darlington's shoulder-length hair and a long beard, along with his unassuming nature, have earned him the nickname “Jesus”.

Meanwhile Liam is singing of litanies and people are bowing down to him as if he really is a Messiah. It's a pity The Stone Roses got there first with the album title The Second Coming. Something was in the air again.

The atmosphere was well and truly charged by the time Shock of the Lightning kicked in and Liam's vocals were as good as they've been in years.

There's still the obligatory growling like a gibbon with laryngitis, over-exaggerated Mancunian elocution and a couple of blue words here and there but, by and large, he was well on form.

And come off it. Who pays money for an Oasis ticket based purely on the musical performance they think they're going to get? You go and see Oasis for the whole live experience. The beer chucked over your head, the swearing, the chants... It really is just like supporting your own football team.

Oasis thankfully have a catalogue of hits to fall back on should the behaviour become too much. Although big hitters such as Some Might Say and Acquiesce were overlooked, they still found room to accommodate the likes of Cigarettes and Alcohol, Wonderwall, Supersonic – the tune that made it OK to enjoy a G&T, and Morning Glorythe Britpop anthem.

Aside from the electrifying Shock of the Lightning, the songs that they played off the new album were just OK - not exactly “Morning Glorys”. Waiting for the Rapture was a food stomping, head nodding number from Noel while Liam's Soldier On was instantly forgettable. I'm Outta Time, however, was a haunting and impressive Lennon-esque tribute. Even more remarkably, it was Liam who wrote it.

An undoubted highlight of the gig was Noel's The Masterplan originally the B-side of Wonderwall and still miles better than any A-side that a UK band is currently producing.

"Superb", declared Liam, before launching into Songbird. Not quite as intricate as the former, but great songs can be founded on simplicity too.

So, job done. Oasis are back, still exciting and they've got some very good tunes to back up the haughtiness. However a little perspective is needed

Oasis aren't the best rock and roll band of all time. Liam Gallagher isn't the best rock and roll singer ever. While Richard Ashcroft's voice has hardly changed since 1994 it was something of a relief that Oasis didn't include Live Forever. Liam would certainly have struggled with the key.

I Am The Walrus ended the show and confirmed that Liam Gallagher isn't in fact John Lennon but is very much Oasis.

Imperative listening? Some might say. Compelling to watch? There's no definitely maybes about it

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