Live: Oasis Call Soldiers "Gay Boys" at MSG
Photos by David Atlas
Madison Square Garden
Wednesday, December 17
Stature can say a lot. At last night's Madison Square Garden Oasis gig, opener Ryan Adams, never known as the quiet, non-effacing type (what with all the tumblr dice he used to roll online) left the banter to his Cardinals guitarist Neal Cassal, positioned himself decidedly out of the spotlight (except of course when he was, literally, spotlit), and more or less put in a shift. A Cardinology-heavy set (with a nice version of "Fix It") elicited some "woo's" from the early-arrivals; a shambolic take on "Come Pick Me Up" prompted the lady in front of me to pole dance on her boyfriend in the Credit Suisse fleece. While their psych-country sound certainly reached the luxury suites of the Garden, the Cardinals seemed non-plussed by the venue: You'd hardly think anyone was watching them.
Oasis' Liam Gallagher, on the other hand, prowled the Garden stage as if he was about to take part in a title fight, occasionally breaking off from the stoic frontman bit to pantomime jerking off at someone up front who was offending his delicate Manchester sensibilities, or to acknowledge some members of the armed forces in attendance by asking if they were "gay boys."
Liam's barely-literate-git routine has always been an essential counterpoint to his incredibly effective voice. When someone so coarse beautifully elongates the syllables in "Wonderwall"'s "there are many things that I'd like to say to you, but I don't know howwwwwww," it sounds all the more longing when you know the source.
Last night, however, as a result of some Dylan-esque re-imagining of catalog, or perhaps a lifetime of cigarettes and alcohol, Liam sang in clipped, abbreviated measures. The Oasis frontman backed away from the microphone abruptly, seemingly to catch his breath--this, evidently, has been a problem lately.
The band seemed equally labored. The first half of the set relied on their recently released Dig Out Your Soul, offering a driving "The Shock of the Lightning." After asking the crowd if anyone had attended the previous night's Neil Young concert, Oasis launched into a Crazy Horse-esque version of Definitely Maybe favorite "Slide Away." This signaled the sing-a-long portion of the evening: an acoustic take on "Don't Look Back in Anger," in which the more in-form (vocally) Gallagher, Noel, hardly needed to sing at all, thanks to crowd participation; a rockier than usual "Wonderwall" and a snarling take on "Champagne Supernova," the reaction to which caused even Liam to stand back and appreciate.--Chris Ryan