Oasis, Astoria, London

Bathe in the anthems, but don't look back in anger
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The Independent Culture

Nobody could ever accuse Oasis of swanking it up when it comes to concerts. A few fairy lights round the backline, a modest light show, and five or six virtually immobile blokes who've mostly undergone personality by-passes.

Nobody could ever accuse Oasis of swanking it up when it comes to concerts. A few fairy lights round the backline, a modest light show, and five or six virtually immobile blokes who've mostly undergone personality by-passes.

Their stage wear is their street clothes, and the brothers Gallagher have somehow managed the impressive feat of replacing departed band members with new players who make even less impression on one's consciousness than their predecessors - at least Bonehead had a certain lumpen charm about him.

Still, that seems more than enough for the lad a few yards along from me, his arms aloft in acclamation throughout the entire show, who keeps shouting for Liam to "get your packet out".

The object of his affections is in typical swaggering monkey-boy mode tonight, fetchingly attired in white hoody, red knee-length shorts and shades, while Noel was in his usual dark denim outfit. Occasionally Liam mumbles some between-songs banter, but it's mostly indecipherable: the only word I caught for sure was "shit", which was not much help.

Tonight's show is the opening salvo in the promotional campaign for the new Oasis album Don't Believe The Truth, which Noel has been assiduously bigging up as their "best since Definitely Maybe", a litany repeated for every Oasis album since Be Here Now. And on the strength of the new material premiered here, it's just as fanciful a claim. The band jump feet-first into the new stuff, opening with a droney, plodding piece called "Turn Up The Sun", and the new single "Lyla", which is warmly greeted as their latest sing-along anthem.

In a way, it seems to herald a change in the Oasis formula, being based not on the Beatles but the Stones, lifting the vocal melody from "Street Fighting Man". Confirming one's suspicions, another new song, "The Meaning Of Soul", is like a cross between The Seeds' "Pushin' Too Hard" and the Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash".

Not that Noel has entirely finished with the Fabs, of course. Another new number, "The Importance Of Being Idle", has the prancing oompah charm of a McCartney granny-grabber. "Surprisingly, sounds like The Beatles," mutters the fellow next to me, sardonically; imagine our shock, then, when the very next song, "A Bell Will Ring", adopts a miasmic drone and lumpy rhythm akin to "Tomorrow Never Knows". It comes as almost a relief when "Mucky Fingers" draws more on the chugging riff to "I'm Waiting For My Man": it may not be original, but at least it's half a world away.

Ultimately, Noel's claims for Don't Believe The Truth are roundly rebuffed by the band's own back catalogue. There's a huge wave of euphoria that washes over the audience as the opening brace of unfamiliar songs is at last followed by "(What's The Story) Morning Glory": this is why we're all here, to bathe in the old anthems, not to hear the plodding new material.

From that point on, the show is defined by a series of grand community-singing exercises of "Cigarettes & Alcohol", "Live Forever", "Champagne Supernova", "Rock'n'Roll Star", the encores of "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back In Anger", during which it becomes clear that Oasis's great gift to pop is to bring the football terraces into the concert halls. Alas, the prognosis for the new album may be less a tilt at the Premiership title than a struggle for mid-table security.

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