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Music

The disastrous performance behind the Oasis classic ‘Talk Tonight’

@TomTaylorFO

Behind all the tired old hum hawing surrounding a non-existent Oasis reunion, the one truth often forgotten is how the band always seemed fated to be short-lived in the first place. On the one hand, you have Liam Gallagher, a fellow whose brother described magnificently as a “man with a fork in a world of soup.” And then you have Liam jibing that Noel is the sort of person he would end up “braining” if they ever hung out together again.  

In short, they were never likely to end up in musical matrimony bliss, and, in part, this caustic tension was the lifeblood of the band in the first place. Many of their best tracks were forged in the flames of rock ‘n’ roll discontent, and the beautiful piece of acoustic introspection that is ‘Talk Tonight’ is the perfect example of that. 

While the band are often remembered as British heroes who failed to break the States, that isn’t quite true—they have a solid following on the far side of the pond and there is a very good reason why it never quite boomed there anyway. After all, When Oasis first toured America, it was an absolute disaster. 

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The band were already falling apart and then one night, in Los Angeles, they bought what they thought was a bag of cocaine but sadly it turned out to be Crystal Meth. The erroneously purchased potent substance had dire consequences. What was supposed to be a pre-show perk up ended up unleashing all sorts of amphetamine mayhem. 

The sound man, also dabbling in the Meth, in a state of discombobulated delirium, wrote a different setlist for every band member, so as Noel Gallagher was playing one song, his brother Liam was singing another, all while Bonehead was simply struggling to stand up. Aside from a cracking retrospective anecdote, the disastrous gig also offered up one of their best songs and certainly one of the best B-Sides.

The story goes that Noel had met a love interest in San Francisco earlier in the tour, and after the catastrophic gig, when everything was falling apart around him, he gave her a call. It is a phone call now eternalised in song, and the song in question is a heartfelt piece of acoustic pop perfection that belongs in the upper echelons of B-Side history. Its A-Side neighbour ‘Some Might Say’ wasn’t bad either.

The tale of chatting through troubled times and escaping somewhere else is the rock ‘n’ roll equivalent of the beautiful Labi Siffre folk plucking anthem ‘Bless the Telephone’. Noel was at a low point on that tour and a touch of tenderness amid the mania helped to ground him in an almost literal sense. The show might have been a car wreck, but at least something great was salvaged.