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This Is History!” – 5 Takeaways From The Oasis Knebworth 1996 World Premiere

This isn’t just about Oasis. It’s about what they meant to the people...

If Supersonic was about what the fans gave to Oasis (stardom, success, a lifetime supply of parka jackets), this documentary is dedicated to what Oasis gave back. Over two sold out shows that saw 250,000 people schlepp down to sleepy Hertfordshire (2.4% of the country tried and failed to get a ticket), Oasis performed one of the most legendary rock concerts Great Britain has ever witnessed. Ask any fan of the band, however, they’ll tell you that this show means a hell of a lot more than that. Director Jake Scott has done an incredible job of distilling the euphoria that made Knebworth 1996 not only the biggest music event of the 90s, but a pinnacle of youth culture that hasn’t been matched since. 

Using a combination of real-life footage and stylish reconstructions, Scott allows us to live (or relive in my case) the weekend at its fullest, from the beers in the back of the car as it roars down the motorway to the fans staring eerily at an empty stage, attempting to contemplate what they’d just experienced. If there’s one thing that’s clear throughout the 1hr 50min running time, it’s how much Oasis meant to us. We recognised at the time that this was the ultimate celebration of one of the greatest bands to walk the planet. What we didn’t know then, however, was that we’d never see a day like it again. Watching this I was instantly dragged back to that weekend in August 96 when me and 249,999 fans witnessed the biggest gigs of a generation and how grateful I was to be able to experience it again.

It’s the fans who steal the film...

From the shot of sunburnt, burned-out twenty-something-year-olds belting out the words to Some Might Say to the amazing interviews with people who lived that weekend to the max, it’s clear from the off that it’s the fans who’ve been gifted the starring role in this documentary. 

We get to hear some incredible tales from both days – some hilarious, some poignant – and it’s to Scott’s credit that he was able to thread so many into the documentary. There are the girls who, after travelling to London from Europe, seemingly bought the last two tickets on the planet only to be told they had to catch a train to a place called Stevenage sharp-ish (“Stevenage?!”). There’s the fan who left the Saturday gig and immediately joined the queue for the Sunday show, and countless others. In a Q+A before the screening, Scott said: “We had loads [of fans] come forward. We had to whittle it down based on the emotional story. There are some amazing, beautiful stories here.” The anecdotes from people who came together in a shared love of one band are endless, and they’re beautifully told. 

The documentary cements Liam’s status as the greatest frontman of all time...

Whatever your favourite Liam performance has been over the years, if it’s not Knebworth, then it certainly will be after watching this. I’ve always felt that the chorus to Slide Away and the verse to Cigarettes & Alcohol are the best examples of Liam’s vocal prowess on the live stage and I’m only further entrenched in that view after seeing this. That being said, there’s evidence strewn throughout the film that proves how untouchable Liam was at this time and it’s unleashed on us with relentless ferocity from the first minute. “It was Oasis at its peak because it was Liam at his peak,” Noel says earnestly at one point in the documentary. This is Liam at his very best and it makes for mesmerising viewing.

You will get to hear a LOT of the Knebworth set...

And loudly, too. Which is why you simply have to see this in the cinema if you can. From Liam’s unmistakeable growl to the wash of Noel’s guitar as he solos over Acquiesce to Alan White’s booming snare drum, I’m delighted to say that it’s all still ringing in my ears. Editor Struan Clay gives screen time to almost all corners of the setlist, while the songs that are given full renditions are absolutely jaw-dropping. Credit must go to Will Shapland, too, who’s responsible for the audio. Needless to say, it’s the closest I’ve come to reliving Knebworth in the flesh and that’s largely down to his fine work.

It really was history...

Just like Supersonic, the humour and hedonism on display are quite often laced with tenderness and sadness. Knebworth was a tipping point in society. It was a time without the internet, when crowds could be completely enraptured by the music without the urge to film it on their smartphone. As joyful as it was to witness the crowd drenched in the lights, fully present for every moment, it was also kind of upsetting. It’s clear that those days are gone and they’re never coming back. “Can Oasis happen again?” Noel was asked during the Q+A. “It was a celebratory time of youth culture,” he replied. “There’s not one mobile [in the crowd]. They’re in the moment. This film is a snapshot in time.”

Oasis' Knebworth 1996 is in cinemas worldwide on September 23rd.

A special live album and DVD/Blu-ray, also titled ‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’ will be released on November 19th via Big Brother Recordings Ltd. 

Pre-order here..

The live album formats include 2CD, and triple LP on heavyweight vinyl with the digital version of the album featuring HD audio. The DVD will be released as a triple disc set including the ‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’ cinematic documentary plus both nights of the live concert in full, with the Blu-ray in single disc format. 

Limited edition formats include the 2CD with DVD of the cinematic documentary, plus a Super Deluxe Box Set including the triple LP, 2CD and triple DVD plus replicas of the original gig memorabilia, available exclusively from the band’s online store.   

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