Nobody likes a rock-and-roll star, but everybody loves one. Rock-and-roll stars--the singers and guitarists who look bigger than life even when they're half a mile away on an arena stage--are the ultimate figments of the imagination. They only exist when they're performing, hollering, screaming at an audience they despise but desperately need to retain their status as rock stars; and when they step off that stage, when the lights are off and the crowds have gone home, they're still not one of us. Your car is parked in a $5 lot, and you have to fight traffic; their bus is loaded with VCRs and Segas, whiskey and groupies, and a driver taking them to the next city.
Then there's Oasis. There hasn't been another band of rock stars like them since, maybe, the Beatles. Noel and Liam Gallagher swagger even when they stand in silence, sneer even with a straight face, know you adore them for their music even as you despise them for being such arrogant pricks. It makes no difference to them what you think of their bravado, just as long as you pay attention to the notes; it works for Howard Stern, it worked for Muhammed Ali, and it works for anyone sitting at the top of the mountain, watching as the little people below throw pebbles against the boulders.
The brothers Gallagher are great rock stars because they've got the muscle to back up their words: They're "gonna live forever," like they say, because no one's ever gonna stop buying their records. A colleague suggests Oasis is the best rock-and-roll band in the world, but that's probably because the group sounds so much like two of the best rock-and-roll bands in the world--the Beatles plus the Jam, an equation that adds up to a perfect 10 every time, even if the Jam couldn't crack the American market like, say, Culture Club.
When Oasis last played here during the band's first American tour, pushing Definitely Maybe to a rabid crowd at Deep Ellum Live, the group proved it was possible to be passionate and above it all at the same time: Liam stood behind his microphone like a Paul Weller waxwork, clutching the mic and clenching his jaw as guitar-playing-and-songwriting brother Noel threw more and more gasoline on the fire. They surged through their set with such intensity you never knew where one song ended and another began, and by the time they got to "I Am the Walrus"--during which they invited a midget on stage with them and watched in shocked amusement as he cavorted alongside them like the sixth member--the Beatles rip seemed less calculated than inevitable.
There's a fine line separating cockiness and arrogance, but Oasis has enough emotion and brilliance to dance that razor blade without getting cut. If Definitely Maybe was a debut of rare wonder, last year's (What's the Story) Morning Glory? only cemented the reputation: "Wonderwall" might well be the loveliest and catchiest song on radio in many a year, but "Champagne Supernova" is the elegant epic that ties the knot with Paul Weller playing lead guitar and adding vocals. The only question now is who's doing who the favor?
Oasis performs April 20 at the Bronco Bowl.
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