In 1996, Britpop was alive and well and Oasis were kings of the world. They achieved tremendous success with both their albums, Definitely Maybe and the more balladeer-like, and rock arena-oriented (What’s the Story?) Morning Glory, which came out the previous year in 1995. Oasis had temporarily pummeled Blur into the dirt and in the true rock ‘n’ roll fashion had just about disrupted the entire ecosystem of an organised pop-culture dynasty. Although some would argue that that went out the window when Noel Gallagher met with Tony Blair.
By the time 1996 came around, they were experiencing their ‘champagne supernova’ and Liam Gallagher was sticking his face into the cameras and picking fights with reporters. From working-class backgrounds where the Gallagher brothers would get into trouble in their home city of Manchester; they were born to be rebels, Noel Gallagher just happened to be incredibly smart and had a knack for songwriting, while his brother Liam’s voice was impeccably iconic.
At the end of April of 1996, the Gallagher brothers had experienced a true dream come true, an out of body experience that somehow involved karmic and poetic justice, just of the sheer fact that these two working-class boys who were probably told their entire life they weren’t going to amount to anything; they were now on the stage of their home’s football team, Man City at Maine Road having countless young fans screaming the lyrics of ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ back at them.
It would seem appropriate that Noel would deliver ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ with the kind of benevolence of the love he has for his fans, but yet served with a side of his sharp and cynical spirit. His demeanour is cool, calm and collected. Noel once described the story behind the song in an interview with Uncut in 2007: “We were in Paris playing with The Verve, and I had the chords for that song and started writing it. We were due to play two days later. Our first-ever big arena gig, it’s called Sheffield Arena now. At the sound check, I was strumming away on the acoustic guitar, and our kid (Liam Gallagher) said, ‘What’s that you’re singin?’ I wasn’t singing anyway, I was just making it up. And our kid said, ‘Are you singing ‘So Sally can wait?’ And I was like – that’s genius! So I started singing, ‘So Sally can wait.'”
“Stand up beside the fireplace, take that look from off your face,” Noel sang, which he wrote about being a child standing by the fireplace and having his picture taken. Now, he’s having his picture taken again, but this time with his Gibson custom guitar painted with the Union Jack and dressed as if he had just come out of the crowd onto the stage.
It is an emotional moment that is hard to describe. It is simply something that you have to watch and see for yourself.