Oasis: Brash brothers live up to bravado

Photo courtesy Chicago Sun-Times

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
August 22, 2002

If Liam Gallagher ever quit the music business, he could make a nice career for himself as an actor specializing in freeze-frame. If the guy moved more than a few times Tuesday night at the Chicago Theatre, it usually was to exit when his older brother, guitarist-songwriter Noel, sang lead. But that’s nothing new. Oasis never was known for its enthralling stage presence.

A year after the band last played Chicago, the British musicians returned for a sold-out concert at the Chicago Theatre. They were a little bruised–perhaps even humbled–but just as good as ever.

The bruising is the result of a car accident a few weeks ago in which four of the six touring members were injured. As for the humbling, everyone grows up–even brothers who reveled in telling anyone who’d listen that theirs was the best band in the world.

And sometimes, they live up to that bravado. Between Noel’s songwriting craftsmanship and Liam’s intoxicating, petulant delivery, their best rock songs (“Some Might Say,” “Acquiesce”) are glorious. Sure, “Cigarettes and Alcohol” sounds like T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get It On),” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” shares the same intro as John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

But it’s easy to forgive when they deliver a gorgeous, Eastern-inspired song like “The Hindu Times”–a standout track from Oasis’ current album, “Heathen Chemistry,” that sounds like nothing else they’ve done.

Given to oddly bending over his mike stand at a 45-degree angle, Liam is less simianlike in his stance these days. With his raspy nasal voice, he is the better singer of the brothers, twisting “shine” into “shee-ee-ine” and substituting “fee-eel-ah” for “feel.” He is content singing the songs pretty much as they sound on record. Noel takes more chances.

Noel’s vocals are evenly keeled and not particularly versatile in range. But what he does with a song live can be special. For years, he’s had the chutzpah to take the band’s breakthrough song, “Wonderwall,” away from Liam.

This time around, he came onstage alone with an acoustic guitar, announced that he didn’t care who didn’t like his version and proceeded to sing the hit single.

It sounded like nothing either Gallagher had sung before. He retained the song’s sweet, wistful sentiment, but he also altered its pace. You got the feeling he did this not only to keep himself intrigued, but also to throw off the tone-deaf audience that kept trying to sing along with him.

Not to be outdone, Liam returned for the encore. Hands folded behind his back, he stuttered his way through a raucous cover of the Who’s “My Generation.”

People try to put them down? Part of their genius is they don’t care.


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