Today marks 25 years to the day since Oasis realised a collective dream and etched their names in the history books forever. In the space of three years, the Manchester band had gone from hopefuls fuelled on swagger, ambition, and cheap booze and into zeitgeists who were changing the landscape of British music.
A two-night residency at Knebworth saw Oasis perform to 280,000 fans throughout their stint in Hertfordshire. While that figure is mindblowing, in truth, they could’ve sold out the event for another 15 nights at least, with over 2.5 million applications for tickets, which was not only a record but also staggeringly 4% of the British population. That special kind of unity thrust behind one band will never be seen again as Oasis cemented their place as the last voice of a generation.
To clarify the monstrous scale of the event, Oasis hired 3,000 crew members to oversee the event. Additionally, there were 7,000 people on the guestlist alone, which included the glitterati of the Britpop scene of the time, with celebrities ranging from radio royalty Chris Evans, Anna Friel, and Jarvis Cocker there in attendance to witness history.
One person who had a better view of proceedings than most is the lead singer of Cast and former guitarist in The La’s, John Power. On the second night of the residency, Cast played on the bill, which featured The Charlatans and Manic Street Preachers. In comparison, the quasi festival’s first night saw Oasis accept the blossoming rave culture with opening arms by welcoming The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy onto the hallowed Knebworth stage.
“I’d just recorded ‘Flying’, which is our biggest hit actually,” Power recalls to Far Out about his experience of that famous weekend. “I’d just finished it, and then I went on-site to Knebworth. We just pulled into the site on a Land Rover, and Noel was there. He jumped into the car, and I played him ‘Flying’ and the B-sides.
“To be honest with you, I wish I’d taken more notice of everything I was doing in them days,” Power reflects. “I remember the audience, and I’ve played some good shows and festivals, but there it went back to the horizon. It went right across, full depth, and full width.”
Power then poignantly adds, “That was going over the curve of the planet, the music, the amount of people, and the whole, ‘Wow, everybody wants to be a part of it’, and everybody was a part of it. It was the people who put them bands at the top of the charts. You know, now that time has passed, I’m grateful for being a part of that great musical movement.”
The Cast frontman’s remarks show that it wasn’t just Oasis who had made it to the mountain top, but it was everybody who associated with their chance to enjoy a moment in the sun. It wasn’t going to last forever, and Knebworth was the peak of a scene set to enter its decline.
“This is history,” Noel told the crowd as he entered the stage. “I thought it was Knebworth,” replied Liam characteristically and perfectly epitomised the fractured relationship between the Gallagher brothers in an instant.
That eternal summer of 1996 saw Oasis ride the wave of Cool Britannia from (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, and they could see for miles from the zenith.
There’s a reason why the band’s documentary, Supersonic, ended with their performance at Knebworth. Things could only go downhill from there, yet, for that weekend, nothing else in the world mattered. Oasis had finally become the biggest band in the world, and even though their stay didn’t last forever, that remains an indisputable fact.