Bickering Gallagher brothers reconcile for anniversary payday
It is August 1996 and the rock band Oasis are about to take the stage for the second of their two sell-out dates in the grounds of Knebworth House, a country pile in the heart of Hertfordshire, England. It is the venue where the biggest bands in the world - Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin included - beat a path to in pursuit of one of the larger paydays of their performing lives.
According to media reports, the event is more than 12 times oversubscribed as eager fans scramble to book their place to watch the biggest (if not the best) band of the moment. The lucky few - all 250,000 of them - will remember this as one of the defining events of an era.
The brothers Gallagher bound on to the stage. This is the crest of the Britpop wave, the moment when the band's brand of new-lad rock hasn't simply crossed into the mainstream, but it is the mainstream. No one else matters at this juncture quite as much as Oasis.
As guitars are fiddled with and drums are snared, Noel Gallagher, the band's creative force, walks up to a microphone and sums up the scene in a few carefully chosen words. "This is history. Right here, right now," he shouts and wags his index finger in the manner of a soapbox politician, in reference to the fact that no artist - not even The Beatles - had ever before played to so many, in such a short space of time in the UK.
Quick as a flash, Liam, Noel's younger brother and the band's cool-as-you-like frontman, retorts, "I thought this was Knebworth," cutting his sibling's statement to shreds.
This exchange sums up the spark and, indeed, the always simmering sibling rivalry that helped the band light up the mid-Nineties music scene and much later, in 2009, broke Oasis into little pieces, after one last argument proved too much for all concerned.
Liam has since gone on to form Beady Eye, a band who will perform at Yas Island's Flash Forum next month. His star status and his position as one of the most famous Manchester City fans on the planet, a club with deep connections to Abu Dhabi, should ensure Liam is afforded the warmest of receptions when he takes to the stage here on September 16. Meanwhile, Noel has been hard at work on his own solo material and will be releasing his debut album on October 17.
That should have been that, but the brothers rarely seem happier than when they are seeking to get a rise out of one another. The pair have most recently been arguing about why and how Oasis broke up two years ago.
Liam, whose withdrawal from a concert appearance with laryngitis - a condition he says was diagnosed by a doctor - precipitated the band's demise, had threatened legal action against Noel for suggesting that his reason for not performing wasn't entirely medical. "That", says Liam, "is a lie". Noel has since made a public apology.
It is hard to get too excited about either the spat or their subsequent make-up. The brothers have, after all, spent a lifetime arguing. More importantly, the 20th anniversary of the golden moments of Oasis's career are starting to loom into view - from their stunning 1994 debut album Definitely Maybe to that weekend to remember in Hertfordshire two years later. Even in the darkest hour of their dispute, it seems inevitable that the pair will be back at Knebworth in 2016 to reprise their pantomime banter for their legions of ageing fans.
Now, that would be history, right there, right then.
Published: August 26, 2011 04:00 AM