Oasis Knebworth 1996 review – A dreamy musical doc returns languidly | Movie

Nostalgia for the end of pre-internet history reaches a psychedelic peak in this enjoyable documentary about Oasis’ pair of concerts in 1996 at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire.

As the group and evocative punters assert here too often and too vigorously, with 125,000 people attending each night, these were the biggest outdoor concerts ever to be held in the UK (except that the Island Festival de Wight from the 1970s was considerably larger) and they could never happen again (except when Robbie Williams outperformed Oasis with three nights at Knebworth in 2003). If the uniqueness of the event is slightly overstated, its significance is even more so: the content of the voiceovers collected suggests that this was the height of British culture and that all live music fell. then degraded. It’s a lie that every generation tells itself.

The truth, however, is that these were exceptionally good concerts. As Noel Gallagher explains, Oasis had almost entirely skipped the stage of performing in theater-sized venues – the mainstay of the successful British indie band – and instead moved from pubs to arenas to stadiums after. the rapid success of Definitely Maybe (1994) and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995). This feeling of fans and groups caught in a sudden updraft is convincingly expressed in the Jake Scott film, with a quick cut by Struan Clay.

In addition to the voiceovers, they intersperse compelling mid-90s dramatizations of fans phoning for tickets, jumping in cars and driving across fields to the concert, with the rest of the footage shot at the concerts themselves by a great team led by Dick Carruthers.

Fans at one of the Knebworth concerts. Photograph: Hayley Madden / Rex / Shutterstock

Carruthers’ work ranks alongside the recent documentary Summer of Soul: A Priceless Cache that documents a social moment as well as the music. He and his cameramen have a drugged humanistic fascination with people and faces, scrutinizing their euphoria, circling around their bodies – it looks a lot like another realm after rave culture. There are as many women as there are men, some filmed falling for Liam as if he were a member of Take That. “They were us, we were them,” Noel says now: Oasis’ ascendancy was so rapid that the crowd was always caught in its wake.

It is striking how young the crowd and the group are, and the performances remind you of how well Noel’s lyrics were in tune with the youth at this point. There is the existential vertigo – “We need each other / we believe in each other”, “Is it my imagination / or have I finally found something worth doing? to be lived? “,” You and I will live forever “- and the poignant nature of how fleeting it is:” The years go by like rain / it will never be the same again. ” It becomes clear that these lyrics, coupled with the truly relentless brilliance of the melodies and a thunderous rock’n’roll that defied the indie’s habit of navel gazing, are why they are so dear to them. generation.

Liam’s voice, like a jigsaw touching a tree trunk, has perhaps never been so distinctive and loud, and even his now half-estranged brother raved about the voiceover: “Liam is at its zenith – its voice, its appearance. ” It’s great to see Liam up close, how he smokes like a dart player approaching the oche and rolls his upper lip between his teeth in his cartoonish sneer. His jokes, absurd and ordinary at the same time, are endearing and there is a heartbreaking moment of pure brotherly love where he and Noel are filmed staring at each other in happy disbelief. It’s also fun to poke fun at guest guitarist John Squire up close, giving Champagne Supernova a very technical, almost metallic solo.

The reminiscences of the fans are less successful; it’s kind of like talking to them in sixth grade on monday morning – you’re happy for them but you can’t help but feel left out. The claim that cellphones and social media have arrived and ruined mass gatherings like this is time-consuming and largely inaccurate, although it cannot be denied how deeply and purely the crowd is involved in the process. concert. And I loved the story of a guy who helped a lost limo driver and was invited back to find Kate Moss and Anna Friel – the quintessential ’90s teenage fantasy come true.

When Noel tells the audience at the start of the second night that history is being made, it’s understandable – this was a major cultural event, and it must have been exciting to feel part of something. something that seemed bigger than itself. It can be said that he, and subsequently this film, loaded the event with a meaning greater than it needed: the joy of live music is in an immediate and fleeting sensation, which does not doesn’t need to get caught up in the story. But that feeling is something Carruthers brilliantly captured in 1996.

Oasis Knebworth 1996 hits theaters September 23.

Comments are closed.