A Band Looks Back

Oasis was destined for glory and self-destruction

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Oasis: Supersonic
Broadway Theatre
Opens Dec. 9

At the peak of popularity, the British band Oasis performed for 250,000 people over two nights at the Knebworth Festival in 1996. A feat unto itself, but consider this: over two million people were denied tickets. The group could have performed 20 sold-out concerts.

The sturdy doc Oasis: Supersonic chronicles the three years that preceded that record-breaking show. Through testimonies by Noel and Liam Gallagher, Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs (guitar) and the quarreling siblings’ mom Peggy, we’re told about the origins of the band (Liam was in a group, Noel was a roadie unaware of his skills as a composer) and the twisted work ethic that propelled Oasis to stardom.

The film’s most valuable contribution is its examination of what makes the Gallagher brothers tick. Once Noel got a taste of fame and recognition, he pushed himself and the band harder to become “the best”, as vague as that sounds. Liam went along until it stopped being fun. The moment Noel started taking over singing duties, his brother began to push back. The journey wasn’t without casualties: band members quit, unable to handle the stress. And yet despite this (or because of it), the public couldn’t get enough of them.

Produced by Oscar winner Asif Kapadia (the Amy and Senna DNA of his Amy Winehouse and Ayrton Senna docs is immediately recognizable), Oasis: Supersonic is candid in its depiction of the band. Doesn’t hurt that the interviewees don’t mince words describing the turbulent period (“democracy doesn’t work in a band” is Noel’s mantra). One quibble: the focus on personalities comes at expense of musical insight. Oasis’ influences are paid lip service, but their impact goes unexplored for the most part.

While not openly discussed, it’s clear why the success of Oasis wasn’t sustainable. It’s also evident why Liam (a front man for the ages) and Noel (a top tier songwriter) couldn’t replicate the band’s success in their solo careers. Their power struggle led to greatness and without it, the siblings are too comfortable to go beyond the call of duty.

You don’t have to be an Oasis fan to enjoy Supersonic, but it certainly makes it better.