noelg99-259x300 By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
August 29, 1996

Some might say that Noel Gallagher is Oasis.  They wouldn’t be too far off.

Sure, some fans missed vocalist Liam Gallagher, who skipped the band’s U.S. kickoff date Tuesday night at the Rosemont Horizon.

But the wild ovations they rewarded his brother–who took over on lead vocals–showed that the songs were more important than the singer.  And guitarist-songwriter Noel Gallagher happens to have a battalion of shimmery rock numbers under his belt.

Noel appeared comfortable taking the stage without his brother.  Whether he stayed in his usual spot–stage left–out of habit or respect for his brother is debatable (although I’m guessing the former).  But if there was any question about his ability to command a crowd’s attention with his voice, it was quickly dispelled when he started their 15-song, 85-minute set with “Acquiesce,” a track not included on either of their albums.  As he sang the telling refrain, “‘Cause we believe in each other,” the crowd furiously pogoed its approval back at him.

Before their third song, “Some Might Say,” Noel acknowledged Liam’s absence:  “You’ve probably heard my brother’s not here this evening.”  No one booed, although one fellow shouted out, “Where’s your ——- brother?”

A less petulant frontman than Liam, Gallagher showed none of the arrogance that has become synonymous with the group–at least in the press.  Rather, he appeared to be loving his role as the singer.  Noel’s voice isn’t as distinctive as Liam’s, but he shares the same alluring resonance as his younger sibling.  When the brothers appear together, Noel harmonizes with Liam and provides sturdy backup.

Alone, he had the unenviable task of backing up his own leads.  It would’ve been nice if one of the other three band members (bassist Paul “Guigsy” McGuigan, guitarist Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs and drummer Alan White) chimed in every now and again, but they basically were mute onstage, leaving all the vocals for Noel to handle.

Because of the way Noel reworked the songs, many of the tunes were seamless.  If you closed your eyes during “Cast No Shadow,” which Gallagher sang during a three-song solo acoustic set, you would’ve been hard pressed to realize there was only one singer on stage. He sang, “As they took his soul/They took his pride,” repeating the last word with a gentle falsetto.  And no one would’ve sounded more natural singing a new rocker called “My Big Mouth” than Gallagher, who definitely has one.  But on a song like the lush “Live Forever” that begs for harmonies, Noel had a rougher time doing it all by himself.

Boldly staking a claim in rock ‘n ‘ roll history with confidence backed by raw, feral talent, Oasis was an unknown to most Americans just a year ago.  In Britain, Oasis isn’t just any band–but the band.  Their Top 10 hit “Wonderwall” hasn’t catapulted them to that sort of stature yet in the U.S., but I wouldn’t bet against them.  They’re patient, talented and unpredictable.

In an interview Wednesday morning, Oasis’ manager Marcus Russell said that he had spoken with Liam earlier in the day and that the vocalist was happy to hear that the Horizon show had gone off without a hitch.  Liam has been slagged in the British press for blowing off the U.S. tour to go househunting with his fiancee, actress Patsy Kensit.  His publicist said he had laryngitis.

“Liam is going to an ear, nose and throat specialist [Thursday] and will hopefully get the clearance to join the tour later this week,” Russell said.  “But he said that his throat wasn’t hurting at all and hoped to be in America again soon.  So we’re optimistic.”
In any case, if one Gallagher had to be missing in action Tuesday night, it was the right one. liam


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