Sunday, December 21, 2008

Live Review: Oasis & Ryan Adams at Madison Square Garden, NYC 12/17/2008

This week it's another review from She Hate Me, and another incredibly awesome fucking show, apparently:

This show reminded me of the Pearl Jam MSG show this past June.  You are as impressed by the large nature of these songs – the “big” sound, the anthems, the sing-alongs, the fact that everyone knows every word to many of the songs – as you are surprised by those same things.  In many ways, this is a function of getting old.  All the sudden, it’s 14 years since “Definitely Maybe” effectively stole rock n roll back from Seattle.  And in that time, Oasis has had one great creative spurt (Definitely Maybe, What’s the Story, Morning Glory and Be Here Now, as well as The Masterplan b-sides LP), one prolonged burn out (1998-2004) and another creative resurgence (the last two records). 

So, it’s been a while since many of us have really rocked out to “Slide Away”, but not that long since we’ve listened to “Lyla” on our monthly playlists.  And so while the latter impressed with the fact that it has become a proper anthem unto itself (even hardcore Oasis fans can’t help but feel that, although the last two albums have been quite good, Oasis is somewhat irrelevant – at least in the U.S. -- in the grand scheme of things), the former completely blew you away with the things that made you love Oasis in the first place – the hooks, the sneer, the non-stop references to alcohol, the lead guitar riffs and, most of the all, the chorus.  By the time they got to “Supersonic” you had already adjusted to the early 90s flashbacks and were just enjoying these songs for what they were – drunken anthems that neatly bundled the best of The Jam, The Beatles, The Stones and The Smiths.  But what makes the new songs so refreshing is that Oasis has actually stopped aping their heroes and developed a sound unique to themselves.

I find it very natural that the opening act, the superb Ryan Adams, took a similar path to the same place – not in the sense that his songs take you back to 1994, but in the sense that his most recent record seems to effectively encapsulate all the great sounds he has aped over the years – the garage rock of the Strokes, the twang of Gram Parsons, the sad sack posturing of Morrissey and the give and take guitar licks of The Dead.  Adams’ new record is not necessarily his best, but when it all comes together as it did last night on “Fix It”, it is probably as good as anything he has done.  And while we would all prefer seeing Adams destroy The Town Hall like he did a few years back, having to fill out expanses of The Garden served him well. 

He was forced to amp up The Cardinals and marry up their soft rock / Dead-style vibe with the treble we saw on “Rock n Roll”.  The result was a very loud, very rocking show that was also very measured and very much in control.  By the time he got to “Come Pick Me Up” – with the pedal steel replacing the harmonica and Adams’ band gelling as well as any time I have heard it since 2001 – he had whipped through the best songs from the new LP and impressed the whole way through.  He made them sound different, but distinguishable and he took away the soft-rock and replaced it with a mean edge that has come to define The Cardinals in the live setting.  It could have been an incredible set, obviously, if he had two hours and chose to play the hits, but instead it was just an excellent set of new songs, with some really great moments thrown in.  He rocked out The Garden, nuff said.

When Oasis took the stage and ripped through the aforementioned new album and the old hits, they did it with the same trademark swagger that they had the first time I saw them in 1996.  They always seem like they are singing to 100,000 people, whether it’s at the Aragon Ballroom or Madison Square Garden or Knebworth.  That’s what makes them so great – the songs soar, they don’t end, Noel keeps playing, he keeps hooking you back in…and Liam just stands there the whole time.  The whole formula works so well and it made for a great night that was not as much nostalgic as it was fun.  For all their absurd rock star attitude, Oasis lacks pretension – they are what they are and they do it well. 

Great time all around at The Garden last night.

Ryan Adams Setlist


Crossed Out Name

Everybody Knows

Fix It

Off Broadway

Go Easy

Sink Ships

Natural Ghost

Come Pick Me Up


Oasis Setlist

Rock 'n' Roll Star


The Shock Of The Lightning

Cigarettes & Alcohol

The Meaning Of Soul

To Be Where There's Life

Waiting For The Rapture

The Masterplan


Slide Away

Morning Glory

Ain't Got Nothin'

The Importance Of Being Idle

I'm Outta Time




Don't Look Back In Anger

Falling Down

Champagne Supernova

I Am The Walrus

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