Hartford/Wallingford is a short 2 hour drive from the big city of New York(where I currently reside), and there was no way I could pass up going to see my favorite band if they were in a 3 hour radius of me. As I found the venue on it's confusing back roads, it was clear that this was obviously a gig played because of routing. The venue was very strange, it looked like a huge barn from the outside. I had this weird deja-vu thing going on as I drove into the parking lot in my rental car. People were blasting music, drinking, throwing football and just basically hanging out before the gig. Living in New York, I'm used to getting off the subway and walking directly into the venue. I remember thinking "Summer must be upon us". Like summer means anything to me now that I have a full time job. I barely even notice the seasons changing anymore. But I digress
I don't know the capacity of the venue, but I would venture less than 3,000 people were actually at the show. The 2 sections on either side of the stage weren't even close to being 1/4 of the way full. There were plenty of empty seats. How can people stay away from seeing the greatest band on the planet?
The main section was filled, but I didn't get to glance at the balcony as I was seated under it. I had actually bought my ticket 2 days before the show so there were obviously plenty of good seats left. The venue was a large, yet seemingly intimate room(for lack of a better description). Yes, it seemed lame, but I knew it would be a great place to see my favorite band in the whole world. The next time I will see them would be at Radio City Music Hall and I doubt I'll be this close.
Spacehog did a decent job of setting the crowd up for the big boys, but I was too anxious to pay any attention to them. I was absolutely salivating about the set list that has been played on the tour thus far.
Memo to Noel
RE: The Set list
NICE ONE MATE.
When "Louie, Louie" came on, I got chills. The lads walked on and launched right into "Go Let It Out", which I think sounds weird played on electric guitar(especially at the beginning) but the crowd was reasonably enthused and into it. Liam was decked out in jeans and a two toned baseball uniform type shirt and was really going for it on the vocals. Once the first tune ended, I crossed my fingers and waited/prayed that they would lay into one of my all time favorite Oasis tunes, "Columbia". I was not disappointed. I loved vibrating the walls in my old house at college with this song. My roommates got woken up by it on many a Sunday morning. It has a great groove(Thank You Mr. Bell) and is, as usual, a really good measuring stick of the set to come. I would pay money just to hear Liam sing "There we were / nnnnnoooooowwwwwwwhhhhheeerrreeewwwweeeaaaaaarrrrreeeeeeee". I absolutely adore the way he makes it all one word and sneers his way through it. Pure magic.
"Morning Glory" was the loudest song in the whole set and woke up all the non-diehards as more of the crowd seemed to recognize it. I prefer the electric version to the one Noel used to do in his solo, acoustic set on former tours. The song simply Rawks, and Liam is wailing away as usual. Another personal favorite, "Fade Away" followed after that(it seemed like 1995 all over again) and then a roaring version of "Acquiesce". This was the 11th time I'd seen Oasis(not counting the time I drove 5 hours to Charlotte for the gig Noel famously cancelled) and for the last 4 or so, I have been really critical of the set list. But you really cannot complain about the opening 5 numbers of this set. It's as tight and rocking as you could ever get from the band.
The show calmed down a bit after that as they started into the less rocking, albeit more familiar to the non-fan, portion of the set. "Champagne Supernova" sounded weird in it's shortened form, but the crowd was totally into it, and understandably so. Noel seemed almost uninterested by the time "Step Out" and "Don't Look Back In Anger" rolled around, but did a fine job on both of his turns at the mic.
The one disappointment for me was "Slide Away". In my humble opinion, this is the greatest song Noel has ever written, and ever will write. This version was slowed down a tad and just seemed off from where it should have been. I don't know if Liam messed up a verse(which I've seen him do before) or what but it didn't have the urgency I expect from such a classic. I also noticed that Noel and Liam had switched from the old version of the song when Liam sang the "Take Me Back" coda and Noel answered with the chorus of "Slide Away". The roles on this night were reversed and the song suffered because of it.
Up to this point, the crowd, of which included of a whole row of Marines seated behind me, had recognized and responded to, oh maybe 3 songs. There were a few fans that recognized the early stuff(obviously owners of The Masterplan), but as a whole, the crowd was disinterested. Noel said something like "Here is another one for you not to sing along to" before "DLBIA".
The crowd finally woke up and cheered as "I am the Walrus" began with a crash. Liam, who sung the last 1/2 of the set with a towel around his neck, prize-fighter style, took the opportunity during the instrumental jam at the end to walk around the stage and flex his muscles at the crowd. It may sound silly in print but it totally worked, and I ate it up.
During the first line of the song, he stepped up and gave it his all. As he stepped away to catch his breath, he stared down the crowd as if to say "You know you fucking love it!!" and I for one, did. At the end of the song, he took Noel's arm and did a do-se-do dance step with his older brother, most likely a jab at everyone who expected The Tour Of Brotherly Love to end in flames like so many US tours before it, and walked off as he waved to the crowd. Liam is always cast as the trouble maker in the group, but everyone seems to forget that it is Noel that always takes his football and goes home when the band goes out on tour.
Noel was the last one off and didn't even acknowledge the crowd as he made his exit. He probably thinks Connecticut is a bunch of wankers... I don't blame him.
I should note that the drumming of Steve White added a breath of fresh air to every tune and he definitely put his stamp on each song. He is far more skilled than his little brother and not nearly as repetitive with his fills and whatnot. Alan, I love you but your big bro is the goods!!!! If you have yet to see the lads, be sure to take note of his technique. It's awesome to behold.
To sum up, gig #11 was by far better than the last 2 times I've seen the band(Radio City last year and also the Reading Festival). The set was just about all I could want(love those B-Sides Noel!!!!) and it's no coincidence that the reason the set was so strong is because of the reliance on old material. But we may not get to hear some of these songs again so I am all for it. The reason I fell in love with Oasis, particularly in the early days, is that they never shied away from playing B-sides and new songs. The sets were awesome and spread out from all sorts of releases. Something for the die hard and the person that discovered them during MTV. Each came away with a sense of "This is MY band!" The last few shows and set lists have missed this desperately.
Another plus is that the band really don't have anything to promote and/or prove this time around and just seem to be along for the ride. I saw nothing but positive vibes from them and I dearly hope they carry over into the recording studio when the tour is over.
PS - I have a great bootleg of this show for trade so please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have something to TRADE!