Twenty years ago today at Knebworth, Liam, Noel, Bonehead, Guigsy and Whitey confirmed Oasis’s all-too-fleeting status as the most popular British band since The Beatles. Rachel Fairburn is still feeling the love.
There’s a line in All Around the World that says: “time keeps rolling by”. Indeed it does: it’s been 20 years since Oasis played their legendary record-breaking gigs at Knebworth. Gigs that saw the Burnage boys play to 250,000 over a two-day event. Stats show that five per cent of the UK population at the time tried to get tickets.
Noel Gallagher referred to the concerts as the highlight of his time in the band, the Manic Street Preachers and The Prodigy were among the support acts, the NME brought out commemorative issues, and I had to stay at home and miss history in the making because Mum said I was too young to go. I was 13 and had been to see Oasis around three times by then, but the phrase “Yeah, well you wouldn’t let me go to Knebworth” featured in many teenage tantrums in our house. I still feel a bit sulky about it, even 20 years later.
It’s hard for me to say why I love Oasis because I’ve loved them now for most of my life. I remember the first time I heard them: I was at my gran’s house and Live Forever came on the radio. I was 12 and it was the best thing I’d ever heard: raw, moody and brilliant.
“You got the impression life in Oasis was a big party and nobody knew when to go to bed.”
It started an obsession that I don’t think will ever stop. I wanted to know everything about them and the more I found out, the more I loved them. Noel’s anthemic songs accompanied by Liam’s distinctive vocals, sex appeal and swagger were the most exciting thing to happen to music and popular culture in years. Definitely Maybe is still, in my opinion, the finest debut album around.
When a new single was released, fans would get excited, mainly for the B-sides, which were often better than the lead track. While my friends were saving pocket money to buy crop tops and Dewberry body spray, I was saving to buy Japanese import CDs just because they had a cover version or demo that I hadn’t heard.
Music aside, I loved Noel and Liam (no offence to the others, but they are Oasis), who were all Mancunian working-class attitude; they didn’t care what they said, who they pissed off (usually each other) or what people thought about them – true rock stars, the like of which we’ll probably never see again.
The brawls, the booze and Liam’s love of the ladies made them perfect fodder for the showbiz columns. And they gave hilarious, raucous interviews: Liam all cocky and sulky and Noel with his quick wit – in fact, If Noel hadn’t been a musician he could have been an excellent standup comedian. You got the impression life in Oasis was a big party and nobody knew when to go to bed.
Oasis are extra special to me because I could relate to them. Growing up in Manchester in a working-class family I would feel held back and frustrated about my options in life, but looking at what the Gallaghers had achieved – global rock stardom, iconic albums, Knebworth – made me realise that you really can do and be who you want. You just need to stick two fingers up and go get it. Make sure you do – time keeps rolling by.
Rachel Fairburn: Skulduggery is at Just the Tonic at the Community Project, Edinburgh, from 18-28 August. Get tickets here.
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Rachel Fairburn is a stand-up comic, co-host of the All Killa No Filla podcast and lover of leopard print.