In 1996, with the hype around Oasis reaching fever pitch, the group solidified their reputation as the stadium-filling outfit that they already considered themselves to be. Taking to the stage inside the stadium of the Gallagher brothers’ beloved football team Manchester City, Oasis delivered two shows that are now etched into the annals of rock and roll.
The April concerts kickstarted the band’s mercurial summer of ’96, a time which was undoubtedly the pinnacle of Oasis’ career. The Mancunian legends would embed themselves into the history of Knebworth following their two performances in August, an occasion which would round off their epic summer in iconic fashion.
Knebworth will always take the plaudits for the headline moment in the history of the band but, for many fans, it was their Maine Road concerts earlier in the season which would see Oasis become quintessential stadium rockers. It put the Gallaghers at the top of the musical pile in Britain and confirmed that they were, in fact, the real deal.
The residency inside the football stadium is just as seismic a moment in the history of Oasis as Knebworth. It was their first chance to prove they could do it on the biggest stage. It was also the first time that Noel had debuted his iconic Union Jack Epiphone Sheraton, which was played for the first time, became an instrument that embodied the Britpop years.
According to Bonehead, the guitar was a gift from Noel’s then-girlfriend and now ex-wife, Meg Matthews. “She got a guy in London who did up guitars to spray a Union Jack on it,” he said. “I remember he pulled it out and I was like, ‘Whoa…’. It’s pretty iconic now. Instantly recognisable. You stick a picture of a Union Jack Epiphone on any wall and say, ‘Name that guy’ and it’s ‘Noel Gallagher’ every time, isn’t it?”
In a set full of career-defining moments, one song from the list stands out as being even more poignant. That track Oasis’ magnum opus ‘Live Forever’ was a goosebump-inducing moment for their hometown audience, which will be sure to send shivers down your spine.
‘Live Forever’ has become the unofficial national anthem of Manchester. In the wake of the devastating tragedy of the bombings that occurred during the Ariana Grande concert in 2017, the Oasis track brought together a mourning city. Even before that tragic event, there was something about ‘Live Forever’ which made it have such a special place in millions of people’s hearts across the world.
Noel and Liam may not see eye to eye on a lot of things, in fact, most things, but this song is one that they both agree is a thing of absolute greatness. Liam told Q in 2008 that it was his favourite Oasis song, saying: “I think the words still mean something powerful. You talk about Oasis capturing a spirit, and I think that song is how a lot of people feel when they’re down on their luck. I think I first heard it in the Boardwalk in Manchester when our kid was trying it out.”
Adding: “Even when we’re starting it now I always feel like we’re going to perform our best version of it. It makes me think of me mam. And it’s the song that makes me feel I have the best job in the band. I may not have written it but I get to sing it. It’s weird cos it’s outlasted other tunes.”
Noel seems in awe of the track as well, telling the same publication in 2011: “With every song that I write, I compare it to The Beatles. I’ve got semi-close once or twice, with ‘Live Forever,’ for example… the solo on that is one of the greatest things in rock music.”
Take a few minutes out of your day to watch Oasis at the peak of their powers performing ‘Live Forever’ to a massive Manchester crowd who are in the palm of their hands.