The rivalry between Blur and Oasis throughout the 1990s was probably the most entertaining musical feud that Britain has ever witnessed. However, in reality, the war was never anything more than the two groups acting like court jesters to please the masses and then quietly moving in the same London circles without actually hating one another. The final nail in the coffin of the feud came in 2013 when Noel Gallagher joined Blur’s Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon on stage at London’s Royal Albert Hall along with Paul Weller for a spinetingling version of ‘Tender’.
The battle of Britpop pitted the two giants of music against each other with Oasis being seen as the face of the working classes and the North of England, whereas Blur was sold as being the antitheses of that ethos, which made for great reading. The rivalry sold countless papers and it got people talking about ‘Oasis vs. Blur’ all over the country, the constant coverage was unavoidable and it was billed as the greatest rivalry since The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
The bands were more than happy to pour fuel onto the fire, throwing playful digs at one another in the press which included Oasis comically dismiss Blur as being “Chas & Dave chimney sweep music” leading to Blur to patronisingly refer to them as “Oasis Quo”. They knew that each comical dig they threw at the direction of the other would result in even more coverage and a little more time in the headlines of the newspapers. Both bands could take their fair share of insults and loved to get creative with their jibes.
The two titans collided in 1995 when they released singles at the same time and went head-to-head for the top spot in the UK singles chart. Blur’s ‘Country House’ shifted 274,000 copies in comparison to Oasis’ ‘Roll with It’ which was bought 216,000 times. Blur rubbed salt into the Manchester band’s wounds when they performed their chart-topping single on Top of the Pops with bassist Alex James wearing an Oasis t-shirt.
“It was ridiculous, really,” Noel Gallagher reflected in 2019. “That whole part of the Britpop thing was so unnecessary. This was gonna be our single from the record then some people from Creation said Blur are putting a single out on that date too, so we decided to put it back a week. Then they called and said they’ve put theirs back a week too.”
Adding: “The whole shame about the thing is that the two songs are shit, that’s it. If it was ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ and ‘Girls & Boys’ but ‘Country House’ is fucking dogshit. ‘Roll With It’ has never been played by anybody since the band split up, which tells its own story,” Gallagher said with a brutal pinch of honesty, as always.
Still, the rivalry did bubble along for the majority of the nineties and early noughties. Then, in 2013, the feud was finally ended for good when Noel Gallagher took to the stage for an acoustic version of Blur’s ‘Tender’ with Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon with Paul Weller bizarrely sitting at the drumkit and putting in a surprisingly solid performance. The crowd erupted when Noel arrived on stage and rubbed their eyes in tandem just to make sure what they were witnessing was really happening.
Noel and Damon had put their feud behind them some years before when the former Oasis man’s wife Sara went over to Damon to say they liked Gorillaz and Albarn got freaked out reacted, asking her: “‘Who sent you over here to say that?’
“So when I passed him in the corridor, we said, ‘Let’s go to the bar and get a beer’,” Noel later recalled. “It was a bit weird, but it wasn’t like two grown men having a weep about it. It was more like ‘You know what? That time was fucking brilliant, that stuff was fucking great!'”
This performance at the Royal Albert Hall was a moment that would have seemed implausible to any Britpop kid in 1995 if they were told Noel would perform with Blur, however, it really did happen. The bromance between Noel and Damon didn’t stop there either, with Gallagher collaborating with Albarn on Gorillaz’ 2017 track ‘We Got The Power’ which couldn’t sound any less Britpop if they tried.