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London, Astoria, 10.05.2005 (Quelle:


**** Astoria, London

Alexis Petridis
Wednesday May 11, 2005
The Guardian

If nothing else, it's hard not to be impressed with Liam Gallagher's defiant attitude.

You might think that Oasis's vocalist would be cowed by the fact that the band he fronts last released a decent album when Tony Blair was leader of the opposition, or by their disastrous headlining appearance at last year's Glastonbury, a sort of terrible embodiment of rock star ennui.

Yet a few weeks ago, in the pages of the music press, he poured scorn on virtually every working musician in Britain who had the temerity not to be a member of Oasis, in terms that were variously flippant (the Libertines were "rubbish"), surprisingly acute (this year's hot newcomers Bloc Party, he noted, look like they are "on University Challenge") or entirely imponderable (Franz Ferdinand apparently, are "Right Said Fred on the Atkins Diet").

It was certainly more entertaining than a note of music Oasis have released since 1996, not least because, with his belligerent refusal to concede that Oasis's star may have faded, Gallagher is starting to resemble one of those Japanese soldiers discovered in the Philippines in the 1970s, convinced that the war was still in full swing.

The plonking title of Oasis's forthcoming album rather completes the picture: Don't Believe the Truth.

It's probably an overstatement to say that a lot rests on their sixth album's contents. Oasis's audience more closely resemble football fans than music lovers, both in their ferocious loyalty - Oasis albums always go to number one, regardless of their merits; their summer stadium tour sold out long ago.

Mostly male and dressed down, they are given to terrace chanting at the slightest provocation. When Liam Gallagher - who somehow manages to exude a certain panache and cool while wearing a terrible pair of shorts and a white zip-up kagoul - launches into a running commentary between songs, in which literally the only intelligible words are "shit", "fuck" and "fucking", his name rings out around the Astoria, as if he had just announced he was personally responsible for the cancellation of all debt in the developing world.

You can occasionally see why Oasis inspire such devotion eight years after their last decent album. Playing the Astoria is a smart move. If festivals like Glastonbury seem to bring out the worst in Oasis's music - its terrible tendency towards pomposity - then small venues bring out its best: the wall of guitar noise they stole from Sex Pistols seems more visceral and exciting at close quarters, the sneering edge in Liam Gallagher's vocals more sour and threatening.

Old songs like Bring it On Down and Morning Glory sound impossibly thrilling.

Not even an intimate venue can do much for Stop Crying Your Heart Out, as flaccid and dull a song as Noel Gallagher has ever written, but Live Forever, its impact dulled by a decade of closing-time jukebox singalongs, suddenly regains its sharpness.

The new songs prove to be a mixed blessing. The opening Turn Up the Sun is precisely the kind of lifeless, mid-tempo slog that has depressingly become Oasis's default setting in recent years, while The Importance of Being Idle sees Noel Gallagher applying his usual taking-without-consent approach to The Kinks' Sunny Afternoon and somehow managing to turn the august 60s classic into a lifeless mid-tempo slog in the process.

Similarly, Mucky Fingers plunders heavily from the Velvet Underground's I'm Waiting For My Man, which at least suggests a broadening of the elder Gallagher's influences.

Guitarist Gem Archer's A Bell Will Ring is far better, lifting its melody from the unlikely source of Abba's gay disco favourite Does Your Mother Know That You're Out?, and setting it to a rhythm that thunders rather than trudges.

Best of all, however, is Liam Gallagher's latest songwriting contribution. The Meaning of Soul is nothing near as windy or portentous as its title suggests. Instead, it rattles frantically along on a churning, off-kilter guitar riff for barely two minutes, before suddenly juddering to a standstill.

It never quite does what you expect - not a sentence often uttered in conjunction with Oasis's music - and if it doesn't quite back up his bullish dismissal of virtually all other current music, it certainly suggests that Oasis's fire may not be entirely dead yet.

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