The eventful and engrossing story of Britain’s biggest band of the nineties, taking us from their formation, through their meteoric and turbulent rise, culminating in their record breaking and era defining Knebworth concerts of 1996, which drew in 250,000 people over two days.
Supersonic opens with the band strutting out at Knebworth, all swagger and bravado, their song Columbia pulsating. It shows them reveling in the sea of 125,000 people before them. Utterly unfazed. The scale and vastness of it all is really something. We are then taken to the same band rehearsing the same song in a Manchester music venue, the Boardwalk, three years previously. From 5 people to 125,000.
In three years.
It then goes all the way back to their childhood and then chronologically comes full circle to finish again at their triumphant Knebworth shows. It is a film that translates the sheer power, momentum and energy of the band in its early years very successfully. You want those times back, even if you were not there.
An awful lot happens in a very short space of time. The sheer speed of their rapid rise is further put into context with Knebworth coming just three years after a Glasgow show ‘in front of seven people’ This gig earned them their record deal with Creation Records, whose manager, Alan McGee, was in attendance. This really set the wheels in motion, bringing about two classic, record breaking albums in Definitely Maybe and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
The Academy award winning producers of ‘Amy’ bring us this often tumultuous, sometimes hilarious, always engaging journey using rare and unseen footage from the time, complimented with present day commentary and interviews from the main protagonists /antagonists Noel and Liam, as well as other band-mates, their mother Peggy, brother Paul and others from their circle at the time.Extra context is provided especially by their mother and Noel and Liam, who talk in some detail about their childhood, and of their abusive father.
All of these people offer valuable and unique insight into Noel and Liam, their chemistry and their rivalry, the relationship that is at the heart of what Oasis was, and what would eventually destroy it. One particular tale recounted begins with a drug fuelled, disastrous and doomed gig at the Whisky a Go Go on their first visit to the USA, and ends with Noel quitting and flying to San Francisco to meet a girl.
Another tale candidly retold involves a cricket bat and a head. Amidst all the arguments and dysfunction, however, there are real moments of warmth between the two brothers. There is also appreciation for what each brought to the table. Liam proclaiming Noel ‘ the best songwriter in the country’ and Noel saying Liam was ‘the best singer and frontman around’ Sincere sentiments, if not necessarily always true.
They needed each other for Oasis to be what it was.
In the early years that the film captures, Oasis was a snarling juggernaut. It was a juggernaut because of the attitude, the swagger, the anarchy and the dysfunction, but also because Noel’s songs were great and so was Liam’s voice. They combined to resonate on a massive scale and really brought people along for the ride. The film captures this sense of a time and a togetherness between the band and their fans. As Noel tells us ‘ the songs are special not because of what we did, all we did was write them and sing them, they are special because thousands of people sing them back to us’.
With the technique of using modern commentary the sense of nostalgia is enhanced as it is the band themselves looking back and reflecting, along with the audience.It is a fresh and substantial take on a story told previously in parts. It is all engrossing. As with all nostalgia, there are genuinely euphoric moments, such as the live performance of B side Acquiesce at Maine Road and things to regret, such as Noel’s and the bands treatment of original drummer, Tony McCarroll. There are moments tinged with sadness. There is also a sadness that the time has gone, not to be repeated. Not just for Oasis. As Noel reflects, ‘Knebworth was the end of something, rather than the beginning’.
As the band got bigger and bigger and saddled with more responsibilities, the stresses and strains are captured. Much of the tension between Noel and Liam is because of this, or at least substantially heightened by it.There is a sense of the business side of things gradually taking over the fun. Like adulthood taking over youth.
Remember, Knebworth was a time before the internet, not long after it the whole world changed. This film represents a nostalgia for younger years and simpler times, as Noel states’ those times were a great time to be in Oasis, and a great time to be alive’.
The excitement the band generated and their electrifying live performances are captured wonderfully.
Ultimately, it is a film of youth and hope. It is a film full of fun and possibilities. If you were there, you want to go back. If you were not, you wish you were, and the integral part of the films success is making you feel you could have been. It is a film that makes anything seem possible.
Written by Shaun McCallion