Manchester Historian

Student newspaper for the University of Manchester's History Department

Wednesday 23rd August 2017 | Manchester, UK

Oasis At Knebworth: Celebrating 20 Years

If some sort of modern day Rip Van Winkle was to suddenly awaken from a slumber he fell into in 1996, he could be forgiven for initially thinking he’d only been out for the night and not twenty years. It seems that we just can’t let go of the ‘90s and for all this nostalgia it’s undeniable that Oasis are still massive within the cultural spectrum. From the now forty-somethings who have been there from the beginning to the modern proto indie kids who watch gigs through their smartphones, the music and influence of Oasis shows no signs of fading into obscurity. Even seven years after their acrimonious split the Gallagher brothers are still asked daily if and when the band will reform; it seems people just don’t want this to be the end.

Now is as good a time as any to reflect on Oasis’ legacy, with last month marking the twentieth anniversary of the bands live magnus opus – Knebworth. The two nights at Knebworth on 10th and 11th of August 1996 were and still are a big deal. With a line-up of support acts that would put any bloated modern day festival to shame, Oasis ascended into rock and roll royalty with one in twenty Britons applying for tickets.

Noel himself summed up the importance of the gigs shortly after when defending his controversial statement that “Oasis are bigger than God”, simply asking “when’s the last time God played Knebworth?” to a bemused Jeremy Paxman. But he does have a point: even the Pope can’t muster a crowd that size on his state visits and he doesn’t charge an admission fee.

Coinciding with this anniversary, Manchester has seen the arrival of an Oasis exhibition at the old Granada Studios. It’s free to enter and packed with old clobber of the Gallagher’s, with the layout of the room from the album cover of their eponymous Definitely Maybe serving as a photo booth for parka clad fans recreating the iconic shot. It’s fair to say the exhibition is a good old walk down memory lane.

For me, as a major fan and fellow Mancunian the exhibition is all good fun, but like Liverpool’s Beatles museum there’s a sense of corny nostalgia harking back to days gone by, looking at old guitars and jackets in glass cases just isn’t what the Oasis spirit was about. The real enjoyment is simply in the music. Timeless and as relevant now as it was twenty years ago. From listening to the music and not from recreating shots of an album cover in a dusty old studio, you will realise and remember just why Oasis are still so important.

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