city: sheffield, england
venue: sheffield arena
to be Back
- uk correspondent
hours of December 14 passed without notice in Sheffield, an industrial
town in northern England. It was gloomy, foggy and it was only
when the thick, industrial cloud lifted and darkness set in that
the most important night of the city’s musical history could
known primarily for its steel production and subsequent closure
of said steelworks, has given birth to some mediocre names in
music, notably the Human League, Caberet Voltaire and Heaven 17.
But the most popular musical sons and daughters of Sheffield were
in town on December 14, as founders of Britpop, Pulp, were in
town to play at their self-organised DJ festival at Magna. It
was a tremendous setting for their homecoming, a huge, renovated
steelworks that has been converted into a successful kiddies museum.
in Sheffield is reason enough to celebrate, but less than two
miles away at Sheffield Arena, Oasis played to a sold-out crowd
at the very same time. It was a night when Britpop was still thriving
in Sheffield, seven years after its conception. It was a night
when there was no time for divided loyalties, you had to pick
between two top quality bands in a dilemma never normally offered
to you in Sheffield. My loyalties lay firmly with Pulp, but having
seen them twice already I opted to see the brothers Gallagher.
An Oasis tour
is always a whirlwind of sell-out arenas and incidents widely
reported in the press. Before the Manchester band arrived at Sheffield
Arena, part of the Germany tour had already been cancelled after
a scuffle in a German bar where Liam ended up with damage to a
couple of teeth. He had to be flown home for emergency treatment
to his mouth, but managed to be back in controversial form in
the UK when he walked off stage and refused to go back on after
the crowd sung along too loudly to Wonderwall. The feeling at
Sheffield was electric, as if anything could and would happen.
What happened was quite the reverse. Liam and Noel hardly said
anything the packed crowd, but their performance was enough to
crown them the kings of UK rock.
with "Hello," it was clear that we were in for a night
to remember. But the sound was not without its problems. First
Liam had to signal to the technician to crank up the guitars and
then, a couple of tracks later, Noel actually went over to him
to labour the point. It seemed to be sorted out, with Noel muttering
“Relief” into the microphone but later looking unpleased
as his vocals were shockingly quiet on opening lines of the magnificent
"Little By Little." These were technical difficulties
we could have all done without, but they didn’t spoil the
sheer presence that Oasis have on stage.
to treat his stage appearances as a great inconvenience and whenever
he could he went off to do God-knows-what. But when he was banging
out "Cigarettes and Alcohol," "Morning Glory,"
"The Hindu Times" and "Stop Crying Your Heart Out,"
it was a sight to behold. His presence on stage, however, was
not missed when Noel took over, the real talent behind Oasis who
has the better voice both on disc and in the flesh. His acoustic
"Wonderwall" (“The first time people haven’t
sung along in years”) came with jibes at Liam’s antics
a couple of nights before, and he dealt with most of the encore
as the crowd bounced along to "Don’t Look Back in Anger"
and "Force of Nature."
Next time you see me, it’ll be in the newspapers,”
he announced before Liam bothered to come back on for the final
track, a press-swiping jibe in the form of The Who’s classic
My Generation. To a backdrop of Union Flags and red,
white and blue, Oasis went out on a high. It’s good to be