My man Toshi and I discussed the new Oasis single on the way to the opening concert of the band’s world tour at Yokohama Arena last Tuesday. What is Noel Gallagher telling people to “let out” in the chorus of “Go Let It Out?” I think he’s talking about people’s illusions of the real world, how you’ve got to let them go and then take in every experience just as it is. Toshi thinks he’s talking about his cat.
Toshi means well, but he can’t really appreciate Noel’s cerebral wordplay. Some people are worse. They complain about the title of the new album, “Standing on the Shoulder of Giants.” They say that’s impossible. If there’s more than one giant, then there has to be more than one shoulder.
Come on, man! Don’t they know that Noel could not be Noel without his working class Manchester background, and that the most precious thing to a proud Mancunian is the right to be ungrammatical?
It’s probably just envy anyway. Those people hate the idea that Oasis is “standing on the shoulder” of the Stones and the Who and, yes, maybe even the Beatles. They’re the most popular pop-rock group in the world, and for a good reason: Noel Gallagher knows how to write the perfect pop song. He’s so good at it, in fact, that he’s written it over and over again. Blur? Yo, every album they put out is different from the last one. Where’s the consistency? When Noel makes an album, it stays made.
Those jerks never go to concerts, only true believers like me and Toshi, fans who are willing to shell out 7,000 yen each to hear their favorite songs reproduced in a hockey rink. Of course, when you’re standing on the shoulder of giants, there’s always a danger that you’ll fall down and break your neck. So even though everyone was psyched, some people were worried. They’d read that Noel and Liam, now that they’re married and having kids and undergoing corrective dental surgery, aren’t the angry young men they once were. Had they changed?
The first sign wasn’t good. People were already standing on their seats before the big black curtain dropped to reveal . . . nobody. The opening song, “F#%*in’ in the Bushes,” which is also the first song on the new album, was on a tape! We watched a lame light show for three minutes!
And then Liam strolled out in a long black hooded shirt-coat and sunglasses and the whole arena began jumping up and down. As Noel, in blue jeans and jacket, and the four other members took their places they went into “Go Let It Out,” which is the second song on the album, followed by “Who Feels Love?,” the third song on the album. I sensed a pattern.
The songs were joined by one of those “Strawberry Fields”-like psychedelic jam-things that Noel likes so much, probably because it allows him to change guitars and tune and open his bottles of Evian without actually stopping the music. Clever lad! Liam, who when he isn’t singing wanders around the stage picking stray bits of lint off his shirt, stepped up to the mike at the end of the song.
Toshi asked me what he said. ” ‘How ya doin’?’ ” I said, “I think.”
There wasn’t much time to ponder Liam’s diction as the band launched into their early hit “Supersonic” and the crowd went through the roof.
At the same time, a yellow spot was shone straight onto my optic nerve and back into my skull. What a rush! Talk about being “blinded by science.” I felt like I was directly plugged into the music as Noel did one of his statue-like guitar solos — his hands barely moved! Liam took a long drink of water and drop-kicked the bottle cap into the audience. Whoa.
The light show got even heavier for “D’you Know What I Mean?”: strobes, super-fast spots pointing every which way. I didn’t know if I was coming or going as Noel played another statue-like guitar solo, this time with wah-wah, and Liam read the newspaper.
Noel sang “Sunday Morning Call,” which is kind of tender and mixed-up, one of those songs about being in your head and also out of it at the same time. D’you know what I mean? The lighting guy cooled it and projected what looked like a Wedgwood service pattern behind the band. Wild Strawberry, I think it was.
Liam came back out after the polite applause and went to the mike. “Gyanen borkz kyortle.” Toshi pulled my sleeve again, begging for a translation. “Uh, ‘My brother’s a good singer, right?’ ” I don’t think he believed me.
Following Noel’s ode to nachos, “Gas Panic,” the group finally sped things up with “Roll With It.” The whole place turned into an overcrowded warren of bunny rabbits as the red spots swirled this way and that. It definitely got the biggest ovation of the night, and was the perfect lead-in to “Stand By Me,” with its Mott the Hooplish chorus where everyone could join in on “Nobody knows the way it’s gonna be.” But everyone around me was singing, “Nobody’s nose weighs as much as me.” They’d obviously memorized the lyrics transcribed in the booklet for the Japanese pressing.
Noel, however, was suddenly pissed at someone else’s screw-up. Liam had forgotten a verse, and Noel said something about “not coming to rehearsals.” Dig it! I had gotten to see the famous Gallagher “intersibling cock-up” in person. Now I know how those lucky dudes felt when Morrison flashed his sausage on stage.
I guess Liam didn’t forget the words to “Wonderwall,” since Noel didn’t complain, but I couldn’t hear them anyway. Liam does this weird thing when he sings. He bends over with his hands behind his back and sings up into the microphone. This is a technical trick that allows him to exaggerate his diphthongs for that nasty working class Johnny Rotten effect, which was perfect for the next song — my favorite, by the way — the T-Rexy “Cigarettes and Alcohol.” Noel did the guitar vamp from “American Woman ” at the end and it sounded so cool. That’s Noel’s genius — he can take utter crap and turn it into gold without actually changing it in any way.
You could tell things were winding down because Noel finally talked to the audience. “I haven’t a clue what you’re saying,” he said, “But thanks anyway.” The crowd, either not understanding or totally into being patronized, went bonkers. Then Liam came forward and said, “Glorp!”
Toshi shot me a glance.
“Um, he said ‘Yer wankers are a pile o’shite.’ “
Toshi was thrilled. He hadn’t wasted his money.
They did Noel’s theme song, “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” and “Live Forever,” and for the first encore the song everybody was waiting for, “Champagne Supernova,” which is, of course, about the desire to break out of your material existence and explore your more spiritual side. Toshi thinks it’s the name of Noel’s favorite cocktail.
The show closed with the song that started it all, ” Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” which Toshi and I got into an argument over on the way home. I told him how the song was about transcending the role that society has thrust upon you and realizing your potential as an artist and as a human being, without giving a damn about what anyone thinks or says. Toshi says it’s about rock ‘n’ roll.
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