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A Funny Thing Happened

A Funny Thing Happened… At An Early Oasis Gig

It was the summer of 1994, in Manchester, England, and the UK music scene was approaching an inflection point.

The heady days of the “Madchester” scene were at an end, and the three main reasons for it’s demise were as follows…

One of the key bands of the movement, the Stone Roses, had signed a deal with Geffen Records in mid-1991 that secured them a Million Pound advance to record their second album, only for recording to be halted due to contractual issues with their previous Record Label, Silvertone Records, the legal ramifications of which were to delay the continuation of recording their sophomore release until mid-1993.

One of the other key “Madchester” bands, the Happy Mondays had peaked their career making an appearance at the “Rock in Rio” concert of February 1991 at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to an attendance of 700,000 people. During this trip they famously went to meet Ronnie Biggs (infamous for taking part in the Great Train Robbery in England on August 8th 1963, which netted the robbers £2.6 Million – over $60m in today’s currency) with Piers Morgan, who at the time was a writer for “The Sun “newspaper”. The Happy Mondays then completed a multi-city US tour followed by the group returning home early in May 1991. The Happy Mondays subsequently disbanded in 1993.

A Manchester institute that drove Punk, Post Punk and Madchester movements in Manchester, Factory Records, founded in 1978 by local TV personality Tony Wilson, Band Manager Alan Erasmus, Producer extraordinaire Martin Hannett, Graphic Designer Peter Saville and Rob Gretton, Manager of Joy Division and New Order, which also spawned the Hacienda Club, Dry Bar and The Area, declared Bankruptcy in November 1991.

The Stone Roses finally released the album, the aptly titled “Second Coming, on 5th December 1994. But the damage had been done and by early 1994 the natives had become restless and the void left by The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and Factory Records was begging to be filled…

Coincidentally in May 1988 the Stone Roses played a high-profile concert at Manchester’s International II venue with Manchester eighties darlings “James”, organized by DJ turned promoter Dave Haslam for Charity. The band attempted to usurp James by putting up posters around town listing the Stone Roses as headliners, and delaying their start time to get the headline time themselves and thus limit the time that James could play for. In the audience was a sixteen-year-old Liam Gallagher, for whom it was the inspiration to form a band of his own.

Flashback to the summer of 1994 in Manchester, and the band that Liam formed along with his older brother Noel, was Oasis.

Oasis’ first single, Supersonic“, was released in April 1994, reaching number 31 in the UK charts. After troubled recording and mixing sessions, their debut album, “Definitely Maybe”, was released on 29th  August 1994, entering the charts at number one within a week of its release, and at the time becoming the fastest selling debut album in the UK.

Sometime between April 1994 and late August 1994, Oasis announced a local gig to be held at the Manchester University Student’s Union building, at the height of the UK Summer. Myself and my good friend Stu had secured tickets early on, and it soon became apparent that these were the hottest tickets in town at the time…

The night of the Oasis gig was highly anticipated, talked about in hushed yet expecting tones and Oasis were generally touted as “The Next Big Thing” for Manchester, if not the UK and the World.

I distinctly remember Stu and myself arriving by Tram at Deansgate on an exceptionally hot midweek summer night chatting excitedly about Oasis’ “Supersonic” single that promised so much for this fledgling band. We probably stopped for a beer or two on our pilgrimage to the University, but once we entered the Venue, everything changed…

The Manchester University venue had a capacity of somewhere between 400 and 450, and as the night progressed it was fairly obvious that this legal limit “may” have been exceeded on this occasion, as the venue filled to the rafters and beyond. As the balmy evening turned to night the heat of the day lingered and the atmosphere became more and more stifling, as the band delayed their appearance.

Oasis delayed and delayed and delayed some more, and the anticipation for their arrival onstage mounted. The general mood of the crowd changed from eager idolatry, to uneasy questioning to downright revolt!

The whole crowd noticed this change of atmosphere and as the temperature, congestion and lack of air became more acute, the mood change made an impact. Unrest was in the air, and it became a distinct possibility that things might turn ugly.

I turned to Stu and said “They (Oasis) better be good… or there’s going to be an (expletive) RIOT in here…”

Within a further 10 or 15 minutes Oasis took the stage to an extremely hostile home crowd, and song by song they turned it around, and 90 minutes later the overstuffed crowd were braying for more… Oasis obliged with a SUBLIME rendition of The Beatles’ “I am the Walrus”, downed instruments and exited stage left. ALL was forgiven…

Stu and myself flowed out of the venue on a wave of euphoria, decrying the new dawn of the Mancunian Music Scene and praising the new Gods of the scene, Oasis, and predicted their rise…

Oasis and Blur founded the hugely successful “Britpop” genre of the mid-1990s, with their North (Oasis) versus South (Blur) rivalry, and went on to jointly conquer the World from these simpler beginnings…

But a funny thing happened… at an early Oasis gig…

By |September 18th, 2016|Categories: All, A Funny Thing Happened|0 Comments