Most people have an opinion on Oasis. They’re one of those Marmite bands that you either love or loathe, or sometimes both. Regardless of your individual views, their impact on British music and culture as a whole in the 1990’s is undeniable. Their new film, Supersonic, charts the Gallagher brothers’ meteoric rise from unsigned Manc hell-raisers to their seminal Knebworth House gigs at the peak of their powers in 1996.
Now, the fact that Oasis were able to go from releasing debut album Definitely Maybe in 1994, to biggest band in the world by 1996, playing shows for which a staggering 5% of the population applied, is astounding in itself. But the documentary is tasked with the unenviable job of effectively communicating the rapture, fervour and excitement surrounding the band at this time, over 20 years after it actually happened. As a music fan who wasn’t even born when all of this was happening, I am pleased to say that the film succeeds superbly.
The Gallagher brothers’ voiceover interviews feature prominently throughout the movie, played over archive footage from tours, recording studios, behind-the-scenes at television performances and more. As you might expect from two of music’s most entertaining and outspoken characters, Liam and Noel’s comments provide some hilariously funny moments.
But this is not to say that the film is simply full of cheap one liners and opportunities for Liam to tear into his brother (a special mention goes to Liam’s assertion that Noel had a “Kevin Keegan moment” regarding Liam being deported from the Netherlands on tour in 1994). Both Gallaghers seem to possess a great sense of regret about their now almost non-existent relationship following the break-up of the band. In the film, you see never-released archive footage of the band rehearsing in Manchester prior to their record deal, the five members sharing an evident and genuine camaraderie that can perhaps be forgotten given the often outrageous and aggressive nature of the band’s exploits.
Peggy Gallagher, their mother, is also talked to in the documentary about what she thinks of the Oasis phenomenon, and provides some of the most heartfelt moments in the film, at one point saying that while she is immensely proud of what her sons achieved with Oasis, she’d exchange it for them still being able to have a relationship with each other. This particular soundbite is played over rare footage of Liam and Noel arm-wrestling backstage at Top of the Pops, acting entirely as you might expect two young brothers to, and you realise that first and foremost, they’re family.
The film though chronicles only up to Oasis’ triumphant Knebworth shows to 250,000 people in 1996, by many considered the marquee moment for British indie music’s rise to mainstream prominence. As such, we’re spared of the acrimonious break-up and family split, and afforded instead 2 hours documenting the power and dominance of a band that truly defined a generation. “I just think in the times we live, Oasis would be unrepeatable” says Noel over a clip of the band playing ‘Champagne Supernova’ at Knebworth. On the basis of Supersonic, one feels compelled to agree.