‘In 20 years’ time, people will buy Definitely Maybe and listen to it for what it was. That’s what is important.’
So declared Noel Gallagher, then the undisputed ‘chief’ of the ‘biggest band since The Beatles’, Oasis, in 1994. The confidence of this statement is classic Oasis: no ‘we’re making music for ourselves and if anyone else likes it it’s a bonus’, no postmodern claims about how taste is subjective, man. Rather, it is a bold statement: ‘we are producing music that is for the ages’.
This quote is plastered on the wall of the Chasing the Sun exhibition at the Londonewcastle gallery in Shoreditch, London. This, the first exhibition dedicated to Oasis, is taking place to commemorate 20 years since Oasis first swaggered on to the public stage with the release of their debut single, ‘Supersonic’.
Declaring a liking for Oasis has been far from trendy over the past few years, to put it mildly. Having worn an Oasis t-shirt to the Y Not? Festival last year, I was stopped several times and congratulated for my ‘bravery’. For closet Oasis fans, wearing Liam Gallagher’s brand of Pretty Green t-shirts is usually as far as it goes. As Brendan O’Neill has pointed out previously, after a decade of primarily posh, clean-living, bed-wetting folk-rockers, the confidence and world-beating swagger exuded by Oasis can make them seem like they come from another planet. The only band to have attempted to plough anything close to the same furrow in recent years has been the bolshie and brilliant Twang, who liberal music journos have desperately tried to nip in the bud with devastating reviews at every opportunity.
As a result, I had a horrid feeling Chasing the Sun could have been a depressing experience. I imagined Shoreditch hipsters strolling around a silent gallery plucking at their beards while musing at black-and-white photos of the Gallagher brothers swigging JD and Coke and smoking fags, as if the mouthy Mancunians were a long-extinct Neanderthal tribe.