Release Date: 12.14.02
Record label: Oasis
Genre(s): Country Western
It's Good to be Back
by: peter naldrett - uk correspondent
The daylight hours of December 14 passed without notice in Sheffield, an industrial town in northern England. It was gloomy, foggy and it was only when the thick, industrial cloud lifted and darkness set in that the most important night of the city’s musical history could be visualized.
heffield, known primarily for its steel production and subsequent closure of said steelworks, has given birth to some mediocre names in music, notably the Human League, Caberet Voltaire and Heaven 17. But the most popular musical sons and daughters of Sheffield were in town on December 14, as founders of Britpop, Pulp, were in town to play at their self-organised DJ festival at Magna. It was a tremendous setting for their homecoming, a huge, renovated steelworks that has been converted into a successful kiddies museum.
Pulp back in Sheffield is reason enough to celebrate, but less than two miles away at Sheffield Arena, Oasis played to a sold-out crowd at the very same time. It was a night when Britpop was still thriving in Sheffield, seven years after its conception. It was a night when there was no time for divided loyalties, you had to pick between two top quality bands in a dilemma never normally offered to you in Sheffield. My loyalties lay firmly with Pulp, but having seen them twice already I opted to see the brothers Gallagher.
An Oasis tour is always a whirlwind of sell-out arenas and incidents widely reported in the press. Before the Manchester band arrived at Sheffield Arena, part of the Germany tour had already been cancelled after a scuffle in a German bar where Liam ended up with damage to a couple of teeth. He had to be flown home for emergency treatment to his mouth, but managed to be back in controversial form in the UK when he walked off stage and refused to go back on after the crowd sung along too loudly to Wonderwall. The feeling at Sheffield was electric, as if anything could and would happen. What happened was quite the reverse. Liam and Noel hardly said anything the packed crowd, but their performance was enough to crown them the kings of UK rock.
Kicking off with "Hello," it was clear that we were in for a night to remember. But the sound was not without its problems. First Liam had to signal to the technician to crank up the guitars and then, a couple of tracks later, Noel actually went over to him to labour the point. It seemed to be sorted out, with Noel muttering “Relief” into the microphone but later looking unpleased as his vocals were shockingly quiet on opening lines of the magnificent "Little By Little." These were technical difficulties we could have all done without, but they didn’t spoil the sheer presence that Oasis have on stage.
Liam seemed to treat his stage appearances as a great inconvenience and whenever he could he went off to do God-knows-what. But when he was banging out "Cigarettes and Alcohol," "Morning Glory," "The Hindu Times" and "Stop Crying Your Heart Out," it was a sight to behold. His presence on stage, however, was not missed when Noel took over, the real talent behind Oasis who has the better voice both on disc and in the flesh. His acoustic "Wonderwall" (“The first time people haven’t sung along in years”) came with jibes at Liam’s antics a couple of nights before, and he dealt with most of the encore as the crowd bounced along to "Don’t Look Back in Anger" and "Force of Nature."
“The Next time you see me, it’ll be in the newspapers,” he announced before Liam bothered to come back on for the final track, a press-swiping jibe in the form of The Who’s classic My Generation. To a backdrop of Union Flags and red, white and blue, Oasis went out on a high. It’s good to be back. 05-Jan-2003 5:20 PM