Oasis Knebworth 96 (2021) - 7/10
I wasn’t at Knebworth in ‘96. I didn’t have the money back then. I’ve more than made up for it since, but still haven’t bothered to stump up for Liam Gallagher tickets on the same hallowed ground next year. My point is, do you need to be a fan to enjoy this? No, absolutely not. I mean it helps if you like the music, but there’s plenty to get your teeth into. It’s as much about the mid-90s and the staging of an audacious event as anything else. A time of ceefax, bucket hats and Tony Blair as a genuine political hero. It’s easy to forget just what a huge cultural phenomenon Oasis were. Not musical, cultural! They were bigger than the Beatles… briefly. A cheek considering how much they ripped them off. It’s a little strange to talk of Oasis as a past entity. Both Liam & Noel still very much part of the present day UK scene, but the release of this film does feel to underline the passing of Oasis and the steadfast resolve for them not to return. I for one am happy about this. Never go back, it’s never as good. Watching a film about the past though, that can be quite enjoyable. Made up of archive (there’s a bit of recreation) and narration from the fan perspective. It feels honest and exciting. There’s obviously plenty from the band too (well Noel and Bonehead anyway… and about 5 seconds from Liam), talking about the enormity of what’s happening and of course loads from the performances themselves. For this you do need to be a fan, although the footage does look lovely and will entertain any cinephile. Plus it helps that this is Oasis at their peak. They sound great and the edit is lovely and especially frenetic on songs like Walrus. It’s the stories from the fans that make this tick though. Travelling from around the country in clapped out cars, getting excited as the sun goes down, drinking flat warm lager, for half an hour it’s brilliant, a truly great documentary. That’s not to say that the performance isn’t great, the footage great, Liam’s classic sneering and silly white clobber. It’s a spectacle, but it halts the stories as the music takes over and becomes a bit more typical. Thankfully the sound-bite narration does pepper the set and the songs aren’t played out in full. It’s not a concert film, but does enough to scratch that itch if that’s what you’re after. Despite the tickets being like rocking horse shit, there’s no sense of exclusivity. It’s a peace and love vibe. There for anyone who loved the music. A tribal mass. If Oasis heaven forbid did reform, you’d be looking at a ton a ticket. Back in ‘96 though you got The Charlatans, Manic Street Preachers, Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy (and some others)… AND Oasis! For £22.50. This is a celebration of music, not a band. What music can do, how it can bring people together, make them feel something, feel part of something. Give them a perspective beyond their own experience. 125,000 (x2) people sharing a moment. Not a phone in sight. “You we’re there because you wanted to sing those words, not because you wanted to post it on Twitter”. I’m guessing that anyone at Knebworth that weekend will adore this film, but even if you weren’t or don’t even like Oasis, it’s not a barrier.