On August 1996 Oasis played one of the biggest single gig of the 90s in Scotland, attended by 80,000 fans.
A defining moment in Britpop, Oasis at the peak of their powers, performing on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.
August 1996, one of the defining gigs of the nineties in Scotland, and perhaps across the whole of the UK.
Thousands flocked onto trains from Glasgow with their carry outs clinking, making their way to Balloch for a moment decades on they’d be able to look back and say – ‘I was there’.
Aged 18, I was one of the 80,000, wearing a Kappa raincoat, desperately trying to pull off a hairstyle that made me look more like Dudley Moore than the Liam Gallagher.
Many of the thousands who descended out of the city were dressed in a similar style as myself, falling out trains onto a packed platform and marching through the town to the site. Some residents had complained about the gigs, fought to have their licence revoked.
n the end, this little town of 5,000 had to roll with it, accepting that there was very little they could do about the invasion.
I’ll admit that my own memories of the day are just a little bit hazy. I remember a couple of the support acts, Black Grape and Cast. I have vague memories of not particularly liking the Bootleg Beatles.
The setting itself was spectacular, the site giant with the stage sitting at the bottom of a slope. I remember there was one particularly large tree sitting in the middle, towards the back. That’s where one friend of mine awoke around midnight, having gone for an afternoon nap and slept through the entire show, even the fireworks that followed.
I can also remember songs, Colombia, which glancing back over the set list, was the opener and also Supersonic and Slide Away.
A glance back at the clippings brings back other not so warm memories, the bottle ‘fight’ and people staggering through mounds of rubbish on the way out, way way past the point of no return. I had my own regrets as well, ones really not worth revisiting today.
More than two decades on, what has stuck with me is the ‘feeling’, the sense that we were all taking part in something special.
This wasn’t a festival, attended by thousands of fans there to see different bands. It was a one off, one of the biggest single live events to be put in Scotland that showed just how big Oasis were at that time. And in the years that followed, as the Britpop bubble burst and the band imploded, you knew there would never be anything like it again.
Oasis played a number of big open air shows, Knebworth in England taking place just weeks after the Loch Lomond gig, which sold out on the first day of sales.
An aerial view of the site shows the scale of the event. The main stage sits in front of the loch, with the VIP area to the right and beer tents dotted around.
There was always an element of uncertainty about their shows, the band were prone to the odd strop and walk off as fans in Glasgow at their SECC gig would later learn.
There were no such scenes in Balloch although the rehearsals were marked by a tragic accident, when lorry driver James Hunter, who was working there, died when he was trapped between a lorry and forklift truck. “We are devastated that this has happened,” said the band at the time. “Our only thoughts are with his loved-ones.”
It might seem hard to believe now but in 1996 these men were style icons.
The site was cleared within days of the gig. Not even a single empty bottle of lemon Hooch remained. Despite all the concerns from locals the concert went well with very few complaints afterwards.
Images: Media Scotland