Cigarettes, alcohol... and mud!

Review by Jack Foley

Oasis, Finsbury Park - Saturday, July 6, 2002

THE rain may have held off, but one of the most eagerly anticipated gigs of the summer turned out to be a damp affair for several different reasons on Saturday, as supergroup Oasis went through the rock 'n' roll motions as part of their Heathen Chemistry tour.

Noel, Liam, Andy Bell and co produced an efficient, if unspectacular concert in front of thousands of fans at Finsbury Park, yet try as they might, there was something missing. They lacked spark.

However, the fault didn't lie totally with the boys on stage; rather with the large pockets of idiots who make up the band's fanbase. For having managed to avoid the heavy showers which drenched fans on the Friday (thus turning Finsbury into something of a mud bath), sections of the crowd were forced to endure showers of a different kind.

At £3 for a pint of Carling, or £2 for a bottle of water, you would have thought that, once purchased, said contents would have been gleefully consumed. Alas, no. The biggest event of the day seemed to be throwing plastic cups and bottles as far into the crowd as possible, to create something of an alcohol war.

Trying to appreciate the music on stage, therefore, became something of a hazardous task, ducking every so often to avoid another shower of lager (or worse), followed by the near-obligatory scratching of the head as the bottle/cup hit its target. Those foolhardy enough to risk sitting on anyone's shoulders instantly became targets and many a pretty lady could be seen turning behind her to express an 'f-word' laden look of disgust.

Worse still, with Oasis in full flow, the singing from certain groups of fans was so loud (and out of tune) that you could barely hear Liam or Noel; and were forced instead to sing-a-long with the drunken masses, replay the album version in your head, and pray that someone would lose their voice or get a very hard bottle in the head!

At least three people around my group of onlookers were forced to move to hear the concert better, while I saw one man being wheeled away by paramedics (having been hit on the head by a flying object) and another colleague saw security guards trying to fend off a brawl while more paramedics attended to someone who lay unconscious.

None of this would have mattered so much, perhaps, had Oasis been special. But it was the type of concert which had all the hallmarks of watching the German national football team - technically brilliant, occasionally spectacular, but oh-so professional.

The Gallagher tantrums of old have been replaced by a 'get on and do it' approach which feels somewhat detached from the crowd. Liam did attempt to get fans going by requesting a chorus of 'who the fuck are Man Utd' but even this backfired; as the drunken morons behind us proceeded to oblige well into the next tune, Little by Little (taken from the new album).

Which brings us to the music. The gig was held to mark the release of the new album, Heathen Chemistry, and had been supported by the likes of The Charlatans (superb), Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (impressive), Cornershop (okay) and others, and the atmosphere was, at times, electric.

Oasis emerged just after 8.30pm to the pumped up sound of Fuckin' In The Bushes' and proceeded to deliver rollicking versions of some of their greatest anthems - from the wailing guitars of (What's The Story) Morning Glory and The Hindu Times to the drum-laden crowd-pleasers Go Let It Out and Do You Know What I Mean?

Classics such as Cigarettes and Alcohol sent the crowd into a frenzy, and helped to turn the whole of Finsbury Park into a mosh-pit, while the attitude-laden Columbia was one of the night's undisputed highlights - a moment when the crowd could actually hear Liam's superb vocals.

Also notable was Stop Crying Your Heart Out (with Liam's opening plea, 'Hold On', particularly effective against the simple piano notes of the single), while Live Forever still sent a shiver down the spine - evoking memories of the band in its heyday and that feeling of awe when first we listened to them.

Yet, overall, there were too few of these moments. Perhaps Oasis are victims of their own success, or maybe their alcohol-fuelled, football-driven histrionics appeal to the wrong kind of masses. In terms of atmosphere, the concert sucked; there was none. Such is the effective simplicity of the group's song-writing, fans knew almost all of the words to every new track played from the album - even though it had only been released on Monday. But, again, it meant that it was the fans you heard, not Liam (the guy you had paid over £30 to see).

New tracks such as Better Man, Force of Nature, and Hung In A Bad Place were all delivered perfectly, with Bell's guitar particularly impressive, yet they could so easily have been taken from any album, such was their familiarity. The Charlatans, before them, were so much more effective, delivering a varied back catalogue which has really shown how they have progressed collectively.

Oasis, meanwhile, seemed content to go through the motions, leaving the football thugs among the crowd to ruin the occasion. It was little wonder that so many people could be seen flocking to the exit long before the gig had finished, no doubt pissed off by the animal antics of the heathens among them.

In the final analysis, then, it was the morons you remembered more than the band. A potentially great gig ruined by the cunts (and I don't use that word lightly) who support them.

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