For a brief couple of years, Oasis defined the music of the mid 1990s. Arrogance, swagger and controversy were constant companions, but their music struck such a chord within the UK and beyond, that for a while, they were simply untouchable.
Supersonic turns the spotlight on these early years, from their first single in 1994 to culminating in arguably their pinnacle moment: the 1996 sell-out shows at Knebworth, where they played to over 250,000 fans. This was a key moment in the band’s career, as for once, a flicker of self-doubt crept in – could they really sell out such an iconic venue, twice? In the end, two and a half million people, almost 4% of the UK population, applied for tickets and if they had wanted to, Oasis could have played sold out shows for a week.
Oasis’ trademark sound was born from their live shows, though conversely they have never been seen as a classic live act. Their limited stage presence and the constant threat of Liam throwing a wobbly and storming off ensured their shows were firmly anchored in the music, not spectacle, and its relationship and relevance to the fans.
Supersonic captures this – the essence of the band’s success, in a similar fashion to both Senna and Amy – predominantly through archive footage, though this time with individual interviews with their music played on top of the visuals. It takes us from the bars and basements in Manchester, to that iconic Glaswegian night, the swift rise to global superstardom, and the resulting implosion which followed.
This structure works well and produces an affectionate and almost intimate look back at those formative years. The sets are delivered with typical Oasis gusto, and the songs, when pumped through a surround sound system, simply feel and sound immense. However, it is off stage where the real highlights are found. The banter between the group, the blunt no nonsense interviews and their sheer levels of self-belief make for compelling watching, with a couple of lines bringing the biggest laughs I have heard in a cinema all year.
Much like the band, Supersonic ignores the wider Britpop scene entirely, which would have added some useful context and the internal and destructive dynamics of the group feel a little glossed over. However, this and the almost scrapbook-like graphics do not detract too much from the central theme, the music, which as described by Noel, is how history will remember and judge the band.
There is no question Supersonic is a celebration of Oasis. It feels like you are in the pub remising with them about the good old days, though thankfully with no danger of it all kicking off. In amongst the angst though, there are some real genuine moments of affection between the brothers, who clearly do not look back in anger, but instead with a sense of pride and bemusement at how easy it was to achieve what they set out to do – become the biggest band in the world.
Supersonic is currently screening as part of the British Film Festival.