REVIEW - Oasish, Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Paul Higginson as Liam Gallagher
Paul Higginson as Liam Gallagher
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IT’S a sobering thought that Oasis’ wonderful debut album Definitely Maybe was released 25 years ago next month. And next year will mark a similar anniversary for the seminal follow-up (What’s the Story) Morning Glory

Therefore, it’s safe to say that many who made up the sweltering bearpit of a raucous sell-out Wedge crowd last night for tribute band Oasish weren’t even born when the Gallagher brothers became household names. 

Unlike me, who was in his mid-20s at the time and thinking those two albums were among the best I’d ever heard from a British rock band in my life. All these years on, I have had no reason to change my mind. 

For all Noel and Liam’s sibling squabbles and the screaming tabloid headlines, Oasis was always (for me, anyway) about the songs, many of them anthems for a generation - Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, Roll With It, Supersonic, Some Might Say, Cigarettes and Alcohol, Live Forever. Happily, not just my generation - as perfectly illustrated last night, these are rock songs to stand the test of time. Long may that remain the case.

Oasish - led by impressive doppelganger Paul Higginson - ran through all of the stadium favourites with the swagger of a band formed in 2004 and who therefore have been singing these songs longer than the guys who first recorded them.

But, for me, nothing can touch (What’s the Story) Morning Glory’s holy trinity of Wonderwall, Don’t Look Back In Anger and Champagne Supernova - and the band delivered spectacular versions as several crowd members swayed (some rather unsteadily) on the shoulders of friends in unison to the choruses as pints of beer merrily sailed through the Southsea air.

Mad fer it? Yeah, virtually all the crowd certainly were ... from opener Rock ‘n’ Roll Star to encore Champagne Supernova.

An impromptu crowd rendition of the Pompey Chimes in between songs rammed it home - not that it needed underlining to me - that many in the audience were football fans. As such, there are few better back catalogues than Oasis’ for perfectly capturing the spirit of the terraces - even if the testosterone-fuelled younger generation at the Wedge last night never knew the camaraderie of the Fratton End prior to it becoming all-seated.

I appreciate it does not appeal to everyone, but being part of a swaying, sweaty body mass while belting out every word of Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back In Anger is my idea of a damn good concert experience. I don’t think I was alone in that last night.

It is now 10 years since the Gallagher brothers last played together. Since then, both have released albums and toured regularly, but none of their material has ever been - or will ever be - half as good as the classics Oasish pumped out for two hours at the Wedge. Deep down, Liam and Noel probably know that.

In the decade-long void that has existed, numerous Oasis tribute bands have sprung up to keep the memories going.Until the brothers bury the hatchet and embark on the lucrative ‘reunion’ tour (and they will), they are all we got if we want to sing along in the flesh. 

On the evidence of their latest Portsmouth visit, some might say Oasish are the best.of the bunch. Definitely, not maybe. 

My sore throat testifies to that.

PS It wrong be wrong to ignore Stereotonics – the tribute band that began last night’s entertainment – for their part in the evening’s nostalgia-fest. If truth be told, I had forgotten how good some of the Stereophonics’ songs are. As a result, I ended their set appreciating Kelly Jones and co’s back catalogue far more than I had 45 minutes earlier. The ‘tonics, as they were at the Wedge last September were the perfect opener for Oasish. 

I know some people who turn their noses up at tribute bands, but when they’re as good as the two last night I can only presume they are musical snobs. For just £13, Oasish and Stereotonics gave several hundred people a fantastic few hours.