Oasis were a band that were impossible for you not to know. Their influence quickly spread across the globe from their hometown of Manchester, unsurprisingly making them one of the most successful bands to come from the UK. On a visit to Manchester, you will more than likely come across a middle aged man with a Liam Gallagher hairstyle circa 1996, sporting a green parka coat and speaking with a broad Mancunian accent. Not only did they somewhat shape the Manchester culture, but many a band to follow.
On 14th October, for just over two weeks, the Old Granada Studios in Manchester opened their doors to Oasis and music fans alike, as a temporary home for the Chasing the Sun exhibition curated by Lawrence Watson. The exhibition made a homecoming visit to the city that birthed the band, and saw thousands of Oasis fans queueing for hours just to get inside. Having originally being held in London back in 2014, the decision to bring the exhibition back home brought nothing but excitement and further speculation of a reunion to many. From the success of the event, it’s clear to see the hold that the band still have over people despite having been broken up for over 6 years.
Everyone had their own reason for being there, and their own stories about how Oasis played a role in their lives. For me, Oasis were a massive part of my growing up, not because I was born in Manchester, but because I was born to them. Hang on, let me explain. The day I was born, the radio was playing in the hospital room, and Don’t Look Back in Anger was the song that introduced me to the world; my mum then spent the next hours trying to convince my Dad to name me Sally, she didn’t win. It’s become tradition over the years for the song to be played on my birthday, accompanied by my mum crying and reliving the details of my birth, which is not a fun experience for anyone involved.
Stepping foot into the exhibition was like taking a time machine back to the 90’s, when Oasis were very much alive and kicking. Despite only living through 4 years of the decade, the place left me with a strange feeling of nostalgia. I overheard conversations in which complete strangers bonded over the video of one of the live shows that was being played from a projector, realising they had both been in the crowd of the show. The two rooms were filled with memorabilia and handwritten lyric sheets (side-note: Noel has very neat handwriting), which were donated by the band themselves. One of the attractions was the wall of Noel’s guitars, one of which was hand-painted with the Union Jack. To think those guitars played such a huge role in the live success of the band, and now here they were hung up on a wall in Manchester. I also couldn’t stop myself from looking at the guitars and thinking, “Anyway, here’s Wonderwall”. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ll have come across that meme, and thus furthering my point that it’s pretty much impossible to not know of Oasis!
One thing I loved about the exhibition was the unseen photographs that decorated the walls, with collections of work from Brian Cannon, and Jill Furmanovsky being shown. The photographs added to the nostalgic atmosphere, framing a point in time which showed Oasis in their prime, and were priced at as much as £350. The 25 minute feature film showed the pre-feud Gallagher brothers being as effortlessly cool as ever with scenes from an interview in which Liam claims them to be “the best band in the world.” A big claim to make, but what more would you expect from Liam Gallagher? The band definitely put in relentless effort to back themselves up on this claim, touring almost none stop from 1993 to 1996. Of course a review of the exhibition is not complete without a mention of the life-sized replica of the Definitely Maybe album cover. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to pose as one of the band members in what is possibly the most famous living room in musical history, but I did have time to marvel at the accuracy of the replication, and watch as people lay on the floor or grabbed the guitar.
As it is now, the exhibition was as close to a reunion as we’ll get, and it gave fans the opportunity to revel in feelings of excitement, nostalgia and fascination, surrounded by the band’s personal items. The exhibition turnout offered support to Liam’s seemingly arrogant claims, and acted as a reminder that it doesn’t matter how long Oasis have been split up; people will still be able to sing lyrics word for word, they’ll still get out their guitars and play wonderwall, vintage stores will still stock Oasis merchandise, and my mum will always play Don’t Look Back in Anger on 7th March, because a band like Oasis will never disappear, reunion tour or not.