When news broke Friday evening that Oasis’ show in France was cancelled suddenly, not simply due to the “altercation” that the promoters, hilariously, cited to the 40,000 disappointed fans in attendance, but because Noel Gallagher up and quit the band, initial reaction was somewhat muted: Hadn’t we seen this movie before?
Nope, oddly enough.
The brotherly angst was always part of the malevolent schtick — they didn’t just hate Blur and Radiohead, they hated each other — and while there was always a fair amount of personnel turnover, Oasis worked at a fairly consistent clip for nearly two decades. But never had either Gallagher gone so far as to release two official statements confirming, in no uncertain terms, that one was finished, as Noel just had.
The gory details from the backstage melee at Seine have yet to emerge. Vampire Weekend, who played just before Oasis were to go on, saw it all go down but have respectfully declined to spill.
It’s this long, colorful history of public antagonism that’s muting the urge to write epitaphs — if make-up dates were announced tomorrow, no one would blink. But even if you don’t think Oasis is worth mourning on a musical level, grieve for the potential loss of rock’s goofiest, longest-running soap opera.
Though no (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, the last two Oasis albums, Don’t Believe the Truth and last year’s Dig Out Your Soul, were relative returns to form and the arenas still sold out worldwide. And the formidable hook from “The Shock of the Lightning” makes people want to buy $60,000 Jaguars, so they must have been doing something right, even to the end.
Yet the band’s split made international headlines, not because of the void Oasis will leave in the charts, but the one they’re leaving in, well, the headlines.
Those who think it should all be about the music never had much use for the Gallaghers’ laddish brand of pith, and they won’t shed any tears. But the unabashedly derivative, cartoonishly cocksure brothers reveled and marveled in their ability to turn old Beatles ideas into new hits — even their music wasn’t about the music.
They were the mid-’90s’ post-Cobain faces of bratty overindulgence; once the overindulgence waned, the brattiness remained intact. Sure, wishing AIDS upon your chart rivals is in poor taste, but that shit sold records and magazines, and neither of those industries is in any shape to absorb further loss.
Perhaps the most compelling thing about the Liam vs. Noel duel is that there’s no one to root for. In any other band, Noel Gallagher would be the crass, bull-headedly ignorant one, but he is Oscar Wilde compared to his less eloquent, eternally aloof younger brother, who can’t be bothered to so much as unclasp his hands from behind his back during a two-hour set. The most damning thing one could say about Liam Gallagher is that even Noel Gallagher can’t stand him.
If nothing else, the brothers’ constant carping served to make the irritants in our own lives seem pleasurable by comparison — these days, we should take our pop escapism however we can get it.
As for the future, it’s no great leap to say Noel, who wrote nearly all of Oasis’ songs, has the brighter solo prospects; Liam should pad his fortune by becoming a TV weatherman — who wouldn’t tune in daily to see if there was a chance of sun-shee-yine?
Okay, Followills: Your move.