You've got to hand it to the Canadians. With one hearty shove, a Toronto audience member succeeded last month in doing what some of us have wasted many years and thousands of words trying to achieve: to shut Oasis up.
Security at the British leg of their tour is visibly heavy, but it needn't be. Wembley Arena hosts a gathering of people who think the Gallaghers are gods. Which, in itself, is a terrifying prospect. Bobby Moore Way is thronged by groups of lads in checked shirts and wicket-keeper hats, all doing that thighs-wide-open monkey walk, talking in pseudo-Mancunian accents when they've never lived north of Luton. And it is overwhelmingly lads. I overhear one of them ask another how his "missus" is. "Oh, she didn't fancy coming. She's gone ice skating with one of her mates."
Their fake-prole act is part of the whole Oasis phenomenon. From the very beginning, the band's path was smoothed with the assent of people who should have known better, but who did a dumbing-down deal with the devil – turning a blind eye to the Gallaghers' anti-intellectualism in their haste to make indie rock Britain's best-selling genre so that the entire industry could make a quick buck.
None of which, of course, diminishes the gale-force power of being present when 10,000 bare-chested chimp-men are bellowing "Rock'n'Roll Star" or "Acquiesce". Just as an atheist can feel awe at the scale of the Hajj or the Pope's Christmas Day mass, the sheer wind-tunnel volume is an impressive experience.
And, overwhelmingly, an unpleasant one. There are few sounds as unlovely as hundreds of drunks in the corridor singing "eeeyyy, Lyla!". But this bovine boorishness is what Oasis are all about. Liam, having sorted out his hair since his mum did it using a basin, returns from a break and smirks, "I hope my fucking nose is clean." Ooh, drugs! If there's one thing that should have the Gallaghers up in front of the cultural war crimes tribunal, it's the way they've allowed the straights and normals to kid themselves they're rock'n'roll rebels because they snort a bit of charlie.
Oasis simply don't deserve the love. It almost goes without saying that they plagiarise shamelessly: their dismal current album, Give Yourself an Enema (and, by the way, one trusts they'll be prosecuted for paying someone to paint its logo all over Britain's pavements), is littered with references, musical and lyrical, to the Beatles, although as "Lyla" (Rolling Stones) and "Cigarettes and Alcohol" (T. Rex) remind us tonight, they sometimes pick other pockets.
More damningly, they simply don't rock. As a friend of mine recently put it, "Noel plays the guitar like he's scared it might break." (See? I can do plagiarism too.) The five of them make a noise which is worthy of the term "wall of sound", but it's a featureless wall: grey, municipal and concrete, with a "No Ball Games" sign in the middle.
Last time I saw Alphabeat, in a tiny pub in Brighton, septuagenarian Sire exec Seymour Stein was dancing on the tables. As the man who discovered both Madonna and the Ramones, his uncurbed enthusiasm was significant. Tonight, the Danish sextet exert a similar effect on a sell-out crowd made up of Newcastle natives and freshers, although if Channel 4's Face of Britain series is correct in finding that Geordie DNA originates primarily from Denmark, this arguably qualifies as a home gig. It's been a remarkable year for the Danes. Since touring under the mildly annoying but reasonably descriptive banner "Wonky Pop", they've scored one of the year's defining hits with "Fascination", and picked up the Scandypop baton from the dormant and dolorous Cardigans.
There's no other region they could have come from. Recent hit "Boyfriend" sounds like a lost Ace of Base smash; singer Stine Bramsen, who is cute as a particularly cute button, is the world's most Nordic woman; no fewer than three of them are called Anders, and keyboardist Rasmus Nagel, in his black shirt and white tie, looks like a stray Hive.
Furthermore, they've clearly taken Roxette's "don't bore us, get to the chorus" motto to heart. The refrain of forthcoming single "What Is Happening" is the cue for hands-in-the-air jubilation, and it's one of many: "10,000 Nights" (which namechecks "Wuthering Heights") and the encore of "Fascination" itself (which namechecks "Easy Lover" and "All the Young Dudes", or at least seems to until you read the booklet) are two more, the latter given a brilliant big-tease build-up. New song "Don't Give It Up" proves they're not a one-album wonder, although "Rubber Boots", with its "go put your mackintosh on", is perhaps too blatant an appeal for an Apple ad campaign.
"We'd like to do a song about dancing, touching people and having fun," Anders SG says before one song. He could have said that before any of them. Alphabeat are six people who see capital-P Pop as something to believe in passionately, rather than a means to an expedient end. In the Popism vs Rockism war, Alphabeat are the anti-Oasis. They exemplify everything in this world that is pure and good and right, and if you hate them, you're the enemy.Reuse content