POP / Deep heat: Oasis - London Forum

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The Independent Online
OASIS ARE punctual. They stand still to play a short set from their debut album Definitely Maybe, then leave. They are a beefy indie band who make music, take drugs and wreck hotels. Frontman Liam, in his sunglasses and Chairman Mao jacket, has a studied menace. He doesn't dance, and rarely shifts from the mike. And, like Davy Jones, he never surrenders his tambourine.

On the cab ride to Kentish Town, the North London pillars and lock-ups are pasted with posters of Larry Adler, The Flintstones, Cliff Richard's 'Hit List', and Liam. Oasis are of the moment, and they play a sell-out gig at the Forum at full-pelt. But there is no sense of watching a band, but of a band watching their audience, a feeling increased when floodlights turn on the crowd and freeze-frame violent tableaux: a shirtless lad burped out of the throng, the white of his underwear picked out by the light; security men reaching into the mob, their arms gloved to the shoulder, to yank a body loose.

Oasis aspire to be the new Beatles. They thump through 'I Am the Walrus' with the same homicidal glee that their heroes brought to 'Helter Skelter'. And Noel, the guitarist, does a passable Lennon: 'Progression is going forwards. Going backwards is regression. Going sideways is just gression.' They won't ever be the Fab Five, but there are other things to strive for. They have already delivered one of 1994's finest singles, the painful 'Live Forever', and it's a mark of petulance that they dispense with this and the Top 10 hit 'Shaker Maker' early on. Elsewhere, songs are distinguished only by their derivations - arbitrary Cream licks, a Madness stomp, a 'Get it On' soundalike - until the soaring 'Slide Away'.

This heart-rending, REM- like anthem has Noel exchanging admiring glances with his brother Liam and fellow axeman Paul Rathurs - they can't believe how great they are and, fleetingly, they connect as a band and as a gang. The moment passes, the heat drops. In the pre- show bar, a waifish St John's Ambulance girl picks at a bag of crisps and, when the fans troop out in their crops and chokers, she's still there, undisturbed. The vicious pogoing and sticky heat might have incurred some casualties, but Oasis are such a disparate force, capricious in execution, they were never going to make anyone faint.