It’s strange to think that Oasis existed prior to Noel Gallagher becoming part of the band. Considering he wrote almost entirely all of the band’s work, who knows what the future would have held for the group without the guitarist bringing his songwriting prowess into the fold. On October 19th, 1991, he would make his live debut with the band and plant the first seed that would help them go on to define the decade.
Oasis were born out of an earlier group called The Rain, which featured bassist Paul McGuigan, guitarist Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs, drummer Tony McCarroll and Chris Hutton on vocals. However, Hutton wasn’t quite up to Bonehead’s standard so he decided to invite acquaintance Liam Gallagher down to audition with the group—a decision which would end up being the greatest move that both men would make. Liam, of course, passed the audition with flying colours but did suggest to his new bandmates that the group change their name to Oasis after seeing an Inspiral Carpets tour poster in Noel’s bedroom which featured the Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon as a venue.
They only made the one live appearance before the addition of Noel, with Oasis taking to the stage at The Boardwalk in August 1991 supporting Birmingham shoegazers Sweet Jesus. However, the show was nothing short of a disaster. “It was horrible because the only people there were your mates,” Liam once recalled to Radio X. “It was a bit daunting trying to act like Mick Jagger in front of your mates. They were just like, ‘Come on what the fuck are you doing, let’s go to the pub, stop all this guitar music, let’s go and watch the match.”
He added: “We said, if you’re gonna be here, skin up a lot more, clap loudly and stop putting! But once you’ve done the hardest gig ever, the rest of them are plain sailing.”
Shortly after the gig, Noel, who had recently returned home to Manchester after touring the world as a roadie with Inspiral Carpets, approached his younger brother and the rest of the band about joining the group. His request was under the stipulation that he would become the band’s songwriter and de facto leader, he also outlined his intentions for chasing commercial success. “He had loads of stuff written,” Bonehead later recalled. “When he walked in, we were a band making a racket with four tunes. All of a sudden, there were loads of ideas”.
A reinvigorated Oasis would re-emerge with Noel in tow at The Boardwalk on October 19th and came back like a brand new outfit. In 1995, the elder Gallagher brother recalled his first gig with Oasis whilst in conversation with Q magazine. “There were about 20 people there and we did four songs [including] a song called ‘Take Me’ that Liam and Bonehead had wrote that I still wish to this day they would record and they won’t,” Gallagher revealed.
The other songs believed to have been played by Oasis at that show include the emphatic ‘Columbia’, a track called ‘Acoustic Song’ which never made it to the next stage or was seemingly played again. Another track that they treated the crowd to according to Noel was “a cover of a house tune that I can’t remember the name of and went on for about 20 minutes”. It’s believed that the track he is referring to is a cover of Belgian house act Cartouche’s ‘Feel The Groove’, which became an Oasis track called ‘Better Let You Know’.
This show would start the story of Oasis and how these five lads from Manchester would go on to conquer the world, the impact that Noel had on the group was immeasurable. Working with Inspiral Carpets had given Noel the hunger to go out there and become a star in his own right, which he more than achieved.
Oasis’ first-ever setlist with Noel Gallagher
- ‘Take Me’
- ‘Acoustic Song’
- ‘Better Let You Know’