Oasis legend joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about the release of the upcoming film about the two historic nights in Knebworth.
He also shared some memories of that time, speaking about the chances of Oasis reforming.
‘Oasis Knebworth 1996‘, which captures the magic of the two nights of the10th and 11th August 1996, lands in cinemas on 23rd September.
When Chris asked Noel how he felt when watching the documentary for the first time:
“Quite emotional and proud and nostalgic. Three things that I don’t really tend to feel.”
“These were going to be our big summer gigs. We never thought anything of it. We never thought we’d be sitting here talking about it 25 years later. The band were in a little bubble, and we were doing our thing. When you see the film, me and Liam were getting on great. They were the best days.”
The film, directed by Grammy Award-winner Jake Scott, is told through the eyes of the fans who were there, with never-before-seen archive footage, plus interviews with the band and the event’s organisers.
Talking further about it, Noel gave a snapshot of the overall Oasis story:
“It didn’t end great. It was a slow death. It was a death by a thousand arguments but, at that time, you know, you see it in the film, there’s a great camaraderie between the band and its fans onstage. I’m glad it didn’t come out at the time. I’m glad it’s coming out now, so all of us have got a little bit more perspective on it.”
“We wouldn’t have a perspective, looking back on the 90’s for what they were, and the way society is now, and all the things that have changed the world… the internet, mobile phones and all that. So, that would be a done thing now, and it would be gone, so it’s nice that we left it alone for this amount of time.”
Over two million people tried to secure tickets to the gigs, mostly by telephone because we were in a pre-internet era.
“I remember coming off stage, and being in the dressing room with all of the promoters, and all of the band and friends, and one of the promoters saying, ‘So, what now?’ And I was like, you know, with the bravado of youth and Guinness, ‘Well, we’ll do it next year. We’ll do five nights next year.” And I remember one of the promoters saying to me, ‘Yeah, we could actually do five nights next year, because we’ll be able to sell the tickets over the internet.’ And I was like, ‘What’s that?’ And he was saying, ‘Yeah, the internet. We can sell tickets now, because there’s a way of doing it.’ And he outlined this thing, and I was like, ‘The internet! That will never catch on. Who’d want to be contactable 24 hours a day? Who in their right mind would want that!?’”
Not only Knebworth, because Oasis played before another massive gig, at Manchester City’s Maine Road football stadium.
About that gig Noel told Chris:
“For me, it proved that the songs that we’d written and come up with in this rehearsal room, which was the size of a toilet, could fill these huge rock arenas. And the fans just embraced it. Out of the summer of those gigs, although Knebworth was the biggest, Maine Road is kind of the one. If Knebworth is Morning Glory, Maine Road is Definitely Maybe. It was more contained, and a great, great, great atmosphere. It was the first time we’d done a stadium, and it was amazing. Walking out on that stage, having been at that football ground since I was seven years old, and watched my heroes, and to walk out on stage and get a standing ovation in your home town, it literally doesn’t get any better than that.”
When Oasis played in Knebworth, they were supported by other great bands, including Manic Street Preachers, The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, The Charlatans, and The Bootleg Beatles.
“The bill over the entire two days was a who’s who of Britpop, bar Blur and Pulp. I think Pulp couldn’t do it because they’d just got back from America, but they were at the gig, and Blur didn’t do it for obvious reasons!”
“I loved the Prodigy. I love Liam. I loved Keith. You know what, they knew they were great, and they had that attitude of like, ‘Okay. Alright. Well we’ll see who follows us then.’ It’s a good job it was the era-defining band! And I like it when bands are like that.”
With the gigs being played over consecutive nights, Noel told Chris that the band had to have a fairly low-key night once the first show was over: “We had to try and manfully keep a lid on it. Liam has always claimed he didn’t know there was a second night, which is a nice line and all that, but he managed to bring a suitcase full of clothes!”
He also added:
“They wouldn’t let us off site, because they knew that if we went back to London, there’s a good chance that either one of us might not make it back!”
Talking about the second gig Noel said:
“The second night was better, in my own recollection. You’re more relaxed. The first night is always the second night that goes on sale. So, if you’re doing the Saturday night, the Friday night is always held just in case. So, the second night is always the rabid fans who’ve gone out of their way to get tickets first, and you’re more relaxed because you’ve done the gig the night before. And the pressure is just kind of off, so I always enjoyed the second night more.”
Setlist from both shows included Oasis’ classics such as ‘Live Forever’, ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, ‘Supersonic’, and ‘Wonderwall’, but there was one notable exception that Noel noticed when the film was being put together.
“When I was looking at the setlist I was like, ‘We didn’t do Rock ‘n’ Roll Star?’ And the guy wasn’t going to me, ‘Whose choice would that have been?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, that would have been my choice.’ And he was saying, ‘Why would you not do it?’ and I was like, ‘I can’t… I was trying to be… I don’t know!’”
“I mean, I wouldn’t do an Oasis gig now without Rock ‘n’ Roll Star. It would be the first thing you do. I don’t know. I can’t work out what the thought process would have been behind it. I can’t work out why. And then I can’t work out why we did two songs off Be Here Now, which wasn’t going to be out for another year. I don’t know. I’m really angry with myself!”
When talking about the 250,000 people who headed to Knebworth for the two special gigs, Noel said:
“The makeup of the crowd is all split, boys and girls, it seems equally to me. Oasis, for whatever reason, rightly or wrongly towards the end had fallen into this yobbish kind of thing, where it became a lads’ thing, but at that point, up to Knebworth, it was a cross-section of boys and girls, and older people and younger people, whereas in the 2000’s it became something else. It became this yobbish call-card, I think. But, I mean, thank god that that little period of Oasis has been captured on film forever.”
Talking more about the feeling of being on stage at Knebworth Noel said:
“You can only really get a handle on it in hindsight. I wouldn’t have been able to tell you in the moment. I would have made some flippant comment. I know a lot of people in bands, big bands, medium-sized bands, small bands. They never, ever will experience something like that, not because they’re not good enough, they’re amazing, just because we had something with our fans at that point, that we hadn’t been paid yet, right, so none of us were millionaires. We were still in the same circumstances as our audience, we still looked like our audience. I hadn’t yet bought a fur coat and a top hat!”
“It’s a magic time, and you only realise the privilege of what it was looking back on it. And I’m so happy that we didn’t take it for granted either. We put on a good show and kept on putting on good shows and kept on trying to do our best. The proof is in the pudding now. I could pick up the phone now, and call somebody, anybody now, and give it the green light, and the world would stand still. And it’s because of the legacy of the band, you know?”
Obviously, the discussione turned about the possibility of reforming Oasis at any point in the future:
“It’s difficult for me to explain sometimes, but in terms of the legacy of the band, since we split in 2009, the legacy of the band has got more solid and strong and bigger and wider reaching than it ever did. And some things are best left crystalised in that moment, I think. And I think if there was to be a gig, something extraordinary, some extraordinary set of circumstances would have had to have happened, for us to be walking on stage again.”
“I’m at peace with it all. I love Oasis. It’s the proudest achievement of my life, but it’s like, once you’ve done it once, you’ve done it. And, at the time it was a special thing, you know? And you can’t keep going back there. Obviously, nobody knows what’s going to happen in the future, but as I sit here today, a reunion doesn’t appeal to me. And as for Liam, he’s doing his thing. He’s responsible for the legacy being what it is. You know, he’s keeping the flame alive and all that, and good for him. He’s doing massive gigs, selling more records than I am, and selling more tickets than I am, if you can believe that! So he’s doing his thing, and I’m doing mine, and we’re both pretty happy doing that at the moment.”
When asked by Chris on why he wants people to go and see ‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’ he responded:
“It’s a snapshot of a time that was much simpler, and youth culture was more defined, and it is a band on the cusp of absolute superstardom, and a nation on the cusp of coming out of Thatcherism and into New Labour, and it’s a historical snapshot of the 90’s, summed up. The hedonism and the joy and the hope in the music, and the irreverence of the band members, and the bond between a band and its music and its fans.”