IT was the mega-gig that defined the Brit Pop era. Oasis played to 250,000 over a single weekend at Knebworth, when Liam and Noel Gallagher, Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs, Paul “Guigsy” McGuigan and Alan White were at their unfiltered, unapologetic best.
As a new documentary brings back how Oasis played their biggest gig ever at Knebworth, Noel Gallagher reveals he was too arrogantCredit: Alamy
The band played to 250,000 over a single weekend, but Noel says ‘I was so f***ing arrogant at the time that it didn’t really register. Genuinely’Credit: Alamy
Now a new documentary brings back how the Manchester five-piece were catapulted into the big time. The two sell-out nights 25 years ago were a huge, worldwide event — except for the boys in that band.
Noel, 54, now says: “I was so f***ing arrogant at the time that it didn’t really register. Genuinely. It’s only since Supersonic (Oasis’s 2016 documentary) and this film that you try and put yourself back in there and you get goosebumps.
“I’m not sure there are any bands who had that lift-off like we did. We were still in the same circumstances as our audience, almost. It is a snapshot of a band, of its zenith. It is a great moment for the band.
“Morning Glory (Oasis’s second album, in 1995) hadn’t really taken off. We were loaded but we hadn’t really got paid. You know, the f***ing chimps hadn’t turned up and tigers and fur coats.”
Knebworth followed Oasis’s 1994 debut album Definitely Maybe then even bigger follow-up (What’s the Story) Morning Glory. Fans from all over the UK flocked to the Hertfordshire stately home for the £22-a-head gig. Footage has been remastered by director Jake Scott to create Oasis: Knebworth 1996.
While the crowd was wild with excitement, at the time Noel was more worried about making sure the telly in their dressing room worked than the prospect of walking out on stage to tens of thousands.
Engaged ticket hotline
He added: “We didn’t feel that overwhelmed. I will see it differently from Liam and all the rest of the guys, but my own part of it, I don’t really remember sing it that much.
“I was more concerned about Sky TV working in the dressing room, to be honest, as it was a new thing. I think it was the FA Cup Final. I was like, ‘F***ing hell. Sky TV. What? In a tent?’”
Oasis shows — fronted by Liam, with big brother Noel on lead guitar and vocals, Guigsy bassist, Bonehead on guitar and White drumming — were a rite of passage for fans.
The film tells of individuals queuing through the night or repeatedly calling an engaged ticket hotline — in the days before ticket buying done over the internet. It was a time when fans were able to connect to the music without smartphones being waved in front of them and people trying to capture snaps for Instagram or Twitter.
As the camera pans over the beer-soaked crowd during the film, a watching Noel moans: “See, that now would be all mobile phones and f***ing people filming and texting someone who is watching on the internet.”
He added at the film’s London premiere on Thursday: “This is a band doing a gig that performed before any of these s**tty words that are in our vocabulary like focus groups, iTunes, Apple, Microsoft, camera phones and all that bulls. To see a sea of people like that in the moment . . . if you go to Glastonbury now it is f***ing annoying, flags everywhere. We had not one flag, not one mobile phone, no one texting. It’s a snapshot in time.”
I was more concerned about Sky TV working in the dressing room, to be honest, as it was a new thing.Noel Gallagher
Brit Pop was grip-ping the country, led by artists who stuck two fingers up at the status quo and were worlds away from today’s overpolished and PR-driven groups. Noel said: “Not that we knew it, but Thatcherism was on the way out and this guy Tony Blair was about to sweep it all away with the will of the people. We had (boxer) Prince Naseem Hamed, who was this f***ing little flamboyant Muslim kid.
“He didn’t give a f***. Kate Moss and (artist) Damien Hirst, Oasis and New Labour and (fellow Brit pop band) Pulp. Everyone seemed to have come from the bleakness of the Seventies and Eighties and done something with their lives. And had a voice. I’m not even sure what we were trying to say, but the people were listening.”
Supermodel Kate Moss, a close friend of the Gallaghers, was at the first night of Knebworth and gave a bedraggled fan a lift home after her driver got lost on site.
In a rare glimpse into her A-list world, the fan recalled: “I was one of the last people to leave the site and this limo pulled up and the guy wound the window down and said, ‘Hey mate, do you know how we get out? I’ve been driving round for hours. I can’t leave the site’.
“I said, ‘Well, I am going the way you need to go. Can I have a lift and I will show you?’ He looked over his shoulder, was clearly asking someone in the back and said, ‘Yeah just hop in the back’. And it was Kate Moss and (actress) Anna Friel — that was a nice way to round off my evening.”
While he wasn’t involved in the making of the documentary, Noel’s estranged brother Liam, 48, does make a tiny appearance.
Speaking off camera, Liam, who has long been in a war of words with Noel, said: “People always ask me what Knebworth was like and I always say, ‘Oh, I can’t remember much about it’. But this film has brought it all back. For me, it was the Woodstock of the Nineties. The music and the people coming together, it was biblical and I will never forget it.”
While Liam and Noel each played crucial parts in Oasis — despite their acid tongues they admit they needed each other — it was Noel’s songwriting that really made them rock royalty.
Noel said: “My songs are inclusive, they are about us all. For that to become a reality — when you have that amount of people who believe that and are singing those songs from their perspective, about them and their lives — you couldn’t even dream of that at the start of your song-writing journey.
“It was my time. I was so into songwriting. Imagine writing Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back In Anger in the same week.”
He reckons the turning point came when he wrote 1994 single Live Forever, which only peaked at No10 in the UK chart but went on to become a fan favourite.
Noel said: “I didn’t have huge rock-star ambitions. That didn’t come until after I wrote Live Forever. A bomb went off.
I didn’t have huge rock-star ambitions. That didn’t come until after I wrote Live Forever. A bomb went off.Noel Gallagher
“We were a pretty decent band the night before I wrote Live Forever but it was indie music. The day after I wrote Live Forever, I knew it. I knew enough about music and about songs to know that that wasn’t indie music. It was a f***ing great song.”
Oasis split in 2009 but have sold 70million records worldwide and achieved eight UK No1 singles and the same number of chart-topping albums.
Despite countless rumours the feuding brothers will reunite, Noel insists that possibility has now passed. He has said previously: “There would have to be an extraordinary set of circumstances for that to happen.
“I’m not the kind who can forget what has been said and I won’t forget.
I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without him and he wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without me.Noel Gallagher
“Artistically, it doesn’t make any sense and I don’t need the money. We broke up because of a lot of little things, it was the perfect storm of little things. Once it was done, it was done.
“It was me and the other fella. I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without him and he wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without me.”
Oasis: Knebworth 1996 will be in cinemas from Thursday. A live album of the same name is out on November 19 on Big Brother Recordings.
Noel says ‘I was more concerned about Sky TV working in the dressing room, to be honest, as it was a new thing’Credit: Rex
Fans queued and hung on phone for £22.50 entry to see the bandCredit: Alamy
Noel rocks record crowd but after the feuding with brother Liam he reveals ‘I’m not the kind who can forget what has been said and I won’t forget’Credit: Getty
Liam, centre stage, and Noel, on the right, at KnebworthCredit: Getty
Aerial shot of the Oasis show at Knebworth
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