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To most American music fans, Oasis have never been much more than a Beatles knockoff and have never achieved the "biggest band in the world" status that they so claimed in the early 1990s. Known in the United States more for their drama queen antics than their straightforward, no frills rock and roll, they have continued to evolve before fans' very eyes, even if that number remains-relatively speaking-small in the United States.
The brothers Gallagher, Liam and Noel, remain at the core of Oasis, but those around them now include guitarist Gem Archer, bassist Andy Bell, and drummer Zak Starkey. Despite the common belief that they will never top their first album, Definitely Maybe, Oasis feels like a real band well on into their second decade. The possibility even remains, maybe more so now than ever, that they could produce something equally spectacular to their 1994 debut.
Lord Don't Slow Me Down is a film by Baillie Walsh that follows the band for a year of touring. Shot in black and white, Lord Don't Slow Me Down is to touring what director Sam Jones' I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is to making an album. The only difference is that whereas Jones stuck gold, Walsh captures little material of any significance. Sure there's a storyline (What's a band to do when they've reached their apex, still have zillions of fans, and want to evolve while still remaining true to their roots?), but there's also endless footage of the nonsense that goes along with being in a huge band and doing a worldwide tour. And perhaps, in the end, that's what Walsh is trying to get at.
Walsh's images are hand selected to speak to what Oasis meant then and what it now means today. It's impossible not to be "mad fer it" when Oasis does a press conference in front of a tapestry of their original demo tape cover, or when adoring fans go wild as the mop-topped boys step out against a balustrade like royalty, or at a photoshoot when Liam gives five beautiful women rainchecks for tickets to a show. An assemblage of lads in line for tickets reiterate the common sentiment with an impassioned chant of "Live Forever." With the paparazzi flash of cameras and their cool strut, Oasis really are as big as they once said they were, in the UK at least.
The Gallaghers' world gets interesting as they skip across the pond, however. The interviews are more crass and unaware, less about the band and more about sibling rivalries, getting ass, and dedications to Richard Ashcroft - part ignorance and part sardonic low-blow sprung from the living spectacle that surrounds them. Yet, Liam and Noel are meant for such mocking because they can dish it right back with wit that's lightning quick and drought dry. If they aren't feeling it, they can say "fuck off" with short replies and (one imagines) a furrow of the bushy eyebrow behind their rock star shades. When they play at Madison Square Garden it's as if they have to prove themselves all over again, proving just how hard it is to play away from home, or at least how different. Walsh provides footage of the band walking to the stage down rows of empty seats at the back of the arena and the roar that immediately follows as they step through the curtain. It's not that the boys don't have frenzied and dedicated fans around the world, it's just that - to borrow a bit of their language - the clocks didn't stop for them. To Americans especially, Oasis is still that British band with the whiny, quarreling brothers and the fans that go soccer hooligan crazy for their music, long after one might note, most (What's The Story) Morning Glory? discs have been scratched well beyond use.
As the band's travels span the globe, Walsh catches the ups and downs of endless interviews and press stops, and it is here that we see the real evolution of the band. Between footage of Noel talking to Japanese journalists, one sees a classic Gallaghers quarrel at a restaurant, roles reversed from past altercations. In the interview Noel discusses the past night's altercations by saying, "I think Liam starts to see himself as a bit of a mad genius." The argument is brought about because Noel agrees to do a cover shoot for a magazine, prompting Liam to rip into his brother for the decision, calling him vain. "It's all good crack to me," Noel remarks with indifference while Liam takes him to task for not having "a bit more fucking respect for our band."
After the momentary lapse into discord, the band finds its purpose in translation. They are, again, at complete comfort with their surroundings in Japan. Both brothers, and new members alike, live and breathe Oasis, from their gravity on the stage to their childish fun in the dressing room. In Japan, time away from the stage includes a game of Sorry!, a Beatles cover band gig, guitar shopping, and the usual repartee with fans. As Noel claims, the two people who are least impressed with the turbulent sibling dynamic are them, the two brothers. They are a band first; the infighting is a diversion that itself often stems from their beliefs about the band.
Walsh captures all of this over the course of a year in the life of a band that continues to plod forward against all odds. Giving us perhaps little else, he is still able to find what Oasis truly means after a good portion of the world - that still cherishes "Champagne Supernova" - has long since moved on. SEE ALSO: www.lorddontslowmedown.com
SEE ALSO: www.oasisinet.com
In in a state of suspended adolescence, Patrick Gill can be found hiding away in northwest Ohio, where he spends most of his time rediscovering shoegaze, noise pop, britpop, slowcore, sadcore, lo-fi, neo-psychedelia, post-rock, trad rock, and trip-hop music. In his spare time he teaches college English.
See other articles by Patrick Gill.
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