Supersonic Review


It is, perhaps, exactly how Noel would have written the script himself if he could go back and do it all over again. We start and end with Knebworth. The pinnacle. Imperial Oasis, before the wheels came off and they hurtled towards the ditch. Before band members departed, and the whole sorry saga became no more than Oasis Mk.II: the Cocaine Years.

Directed by Mat Whitecross, who helmed the Stone Roses-inspired Spike Island, the calibre of this documentary is affirmed by Senna/Amy mastermind Asif Kapadia having an executive producer credit. Plus, in somewhat of a coup for the filmmakers, both Noel and Liam participate. Without both on board, there would have been an air of inconsequentiality hanging over the story. It would be without that official stamp of authority. With the assistance of archive footage from the band’s earliest days (including their gig at Glasgow King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, where Alan McGee signed them), this is a journey into their ascent from gobby youths on the dole to icons of an age.

In terms of approach, the lack of on-camera talking heads – a stylistic employ that worked so well in Amy – is revisited here. But it is important to acknowledge that there is a different overall sensation arising from this film. The story arc is fundamentally different. Amy Winehouse’s life was cut short. The tragedy lies in the fact that it is finalised and will not go on. Her talent really did supernova. Oasis tried to perpetuate their own (champagne – ouch) supernova but failed to extend the giddying flush of success beyond Knebworth. Well, certainly not to the same degree, anyway.

Whilst we don’t get the crash after the rise, we do have a celebration of a band of the people, for the people and by the people. Perhaps it is one not to be repeated. Culture, aided and abetted by technology, has moved things on: becoming more and more celebrity driven, fragmented and, arguably, shallower. Looking across the musical landscape, media savvy rock stars sink beneath the shadow of DJ superstars making music as synthetic and the artificial computer byte world that we live in.?One thing for sure, the rugged, rough-hewn charm and unschooled charisma that the Gallagher’s had is no longer given room to breathe. Maybe it’s the democratisation afforded by the Internet. Instead of fostering a tolerance for the unpolished, sheer bombardment has created an inertia by quantity that leaves a hunger for the refined, finished product.?We certainly seem to live in a world where the mainstream has suffocated anything but the safe and sterile.

In pulling back the curtain on this band, there is an argument that, rather than enhancing the music, Supersonic demystifies it and exposes it. If your opinion of the music wanes whilst watching the film, it is fair to say that the commentary will never fail to engage and make you chuckle. The brothers Gallagher have a way with a turn of phrase that is worthy of a sitcom or a stand-up routine.

When all is said and done, Whitecross has pulled all of the essential elements of the Oasis story front and centre: the swagger, the tunes, the fights and the legacy all rolled up in one rocking documentary. Funny as f*** and totally mad fer it. The treasure trove of unseen archive footage propels a movie that throws you into the heart of the mid-90s Oasis hurricane: the hysteria, the madness and the ramshackle exuberance of youth. Self-belief and the realisation of dreams never felt so good. Utterly infectious, inspiring, and hugely entertaining.

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Having made it out of Essex alive, aside from the glorious confines of HeyUGuys, Greg can also be found scribbling regularly for Front Row Reviews and many other film-related publications. When not bashing away at a computer, he can also be found occasionally locking horns with the politically diametrically-opposed Jon Gaunt on his radio show, as well as conducting the odd webinar for film schools. Lowlights, thus far, have been the late, great John Hurt admonishing with a 'do you really think like that?', upsetting acclaimed filmmaker Ondi Timoner with his piece for the Sunday Mirror and falling out with the blog editor of the Huffington Post. He also brought Liv Ullmann to tears for a piece for this very site (but in a good way... more of a highlight, that one). He can also be found writing on theatre and music for the Islington Gazette, Ham & High, Hackney Gazette, NME and others. Often found moaning about how tired he is, as well as how frustrated he is – particularly as a musician.