Watching Oasis documentary Supersonic something very sad begins to dawn. It forces you to look at the current musicians that capture the ideals of youth culture and you realise that rock stars are a dying, if not a dead, breed. Because witnessing the genesis, rocket to stardom, domination of the charts and ultimate crowning glory that was Knebworth of the self-proclaimed ‘greatest band in the world’ makes you appreciate that there was something raw about music in the 1990s.
These days music is clean, it’s manufactured and it lacks the personality of bygone eras. Sure, there’s nothing cool about bragging about drugs, trashing hotel rooms and getting arrested but, no matter your moral compass on such things, it is rock and roll. Justin Bieber storming off stage because his fans are screaming too loud feels embarrassing watching the Gallagher brothers work a gig, no matter the amount of people there. Big or small gigs these guys were showmen from the get go.
Early on in Supersonic Liam compares Oasis to a Ferrari, it looks cool, it’s proper fast and every now and then it’s going to skid off the road. And therein lies the magic of not just Oasis but what they represented. Britpop, the likes of Blur, The Verve, Pulp and Oasis were all Ferraris. Watching them powerslide around a stage, tyres screaming, breaks glowing, engines revving so loud it’s likely to break the windows is part of what great music is made of.
Of course key to telling the story of Oasis is unravelling the story of Noel and Liam Gallagher. What Supersonic does so brilliantly is explore this pivotal relationship in both a psychological and philosophical manner. While Noel says he’s like a cat, independent and a bit of a see you next Tuesday, he points out that Liam is a dog, someone who needs constant attention. Others points out that Noel has a lot of buttons and Liam has a lot of fingers to push them with. What is refreshing is the honesty with which both Gallaghers approach the film. Noel openly says that Liam was, is perhaps, cooler than him but didn’t have his older brother’s talent.
Director Mat Whitecross has gained unparalleled access to the band’s recordings and videos. For fans this is a Champagne Supernova fuelled goldmine. From footage of the gig that led to their signing, material of early recordings of their debut album Definitely Maybe right through to behind the scenes stuff of Liam being Liam and Noel casually laughing at him. The way in which Whitecross weaves it all together is a delight. He never resorts to talking heads but an immersive voice over from all involved. It’s a tapestry, a pop-up book of moments and personalities that leap off the screen to paint a narrative that perfectly draws you into everything Oasis.
There is a humbleness, as strange as that may sound, to Oasis. Because beneath the pomp and swagger were a couple of council estate boys just trying to find their way in the world. Noel in particular stresses that Oasis didn’t make Oasis great, it was the fans, the people singing their songs back to them that made them who they are, were and will always be. And occasionally, but always poignantly, we get an insight into what made these boys who they were thanks to their mother Peggy. Just as you’re beginning to ask why these boys were so easy to fly off the handle you hear Peggy’s voice, shedding, often sad, light on it. Some of it is sibling rivalry, some of it is from a broken, violent home all of it is a dream to have it all and then more.
What they said then, and they say now, is no matter the headlines, no matter their history, no matter what happens to them what they will be remembered for is the music. Supersonic is a nostalgic, often poignant, euphoric look at a band that defined a generation. Not Maybe, Definitely.
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