How Oasis Went From Council Estates To A Crowd Of 125,000 People At Knebworth

20 long years ago today, Oasis took to the stage at Knebworth, playing huge stadium anthems to 125,000 pissed up people in a field.

Noel, Liam, Bonehead, Guigsy and Alan White stepped out to a jam-packed crowd just two years after releasing their debut album, and only three years after playing dingy clubs up and down the country.

Noel Gallagher, presumably blowing his lid after a big slug of Bolivian marching powder, stepped up to his microphone and shouted 'THIS IS HISTORY', before blasting into an intro that'd be followed by the likes of Wonderwall, Cigarettes & Alcohol, Don't Look Back In Anger, Live Forever and Champagne Supernova.

It was phenomenal.


But how and why? How is it that a small group of lads from broken council estates, drug dealing streets and poor backgrounds come to play stadium anthems to sold out crowds?
Noel Gallagher was always a daydreamer and storyteller, as his mother Peggy has said in the past, and would create really in-depth stories about his days at school, despite the fact he never went. This, his mum believes, is what lead to him penning those lyrics that are sung by groups of lads at the end of a night out.
His first musical job came as a roadie for the Oldham band Inspiral Carpets. He first auditioned to be the singer after Steve Holt left, but was rejected. He then toured as the drum roadie.
Armed with an acoustic guitar, Noel wrote the songs that would go on to become the foundations of Oasis' first two albums. Without a band behind him, though, he was seemingly going nowhere.

After returning from an American tour with the Carpets in 1991, Noel went to watch his younger brother Liam perform with a group he'd joined called The Rain. Along with Paul 'Bonehead' Arthurs, Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan, and Tony McCarroll, the group played a pretty uninspired set.

Liam asked his older brother if he'd join as band manager, to which he replied: "Let me write your songs and I'll take you to superstardom, or else you'll rot here in Manchester." He joined, took all creative control, and was labelled 'The Chief'.

After two years of non-stop practice, the band played a four-song set in Glasgow to Creation Records owner Alan McGee. The songs impressed McGee, and he offered them a six album contract.

At the time, Noel Gallagher blagged to McGee that he had 50 or so songs written, but has since revealed that he only had about six, and got the contract based on 'bullshitting'. Yeah, that's right, the entire foundations of Oasis' success is built on a whole host of bullshitting.

However, the scene was now set. Noel's creative genius, Liam's attitude and snarling, melodic singing, as well as a great rhythm section, and they were ready to take the world.

Their debut album 'Definitely Maybe' was solely written by Noely G. All the songs around that time were written with a melancholy feel to them, with a 'the grass is greener' approach to them, according to Noel.
The album, and its B-sides, all came together through Noel's hope and determination to escape from reality. Half The World Away, Whatever, Cigarettes & Alcohol, Live Forever, Take Me Away, D'yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?, and It's Good To Be Free, all reference moving away, and having a better time - something that connected with people from the same background as Oasis.
The act of all those people gathering at Knebworth, which was basically a big fucking garden in the grounds of some posh house, was a way of people believing and seeking solitude in that escapism.
'If they can do it, why can't we?'.
In the in between of signing a contract to Creation Records and playing Knebworth, the band released two albums and replaced one drummer - Definitely Maybe, as mentioned above, and Alan White replaced Tony McCaroll right before the recording of (What's The Story) Morning Glory?.
Their second album, released in 1995, continued the same theme, and applied the same heavy hitting rock n roll riffs. Songs like Wonderwall, Don't Look Back In Anger andChampagne Supernova are synonymous with the group. However, before they were dampened by lads in shirts singing them in nightclubs, they were the most shout-it-out-as-fucking-loud-as-possible lad tracks to date.

Oasis played a set consisting of:

Some Might Say
Roll With It
Slide Away
Morning Glory
Round Are Way
Cigarettes & Alcohol
Cast No Shadow
The Masterplan
Don't Look Back in Anger
My Big Mouth
It's Gettin' Better (Man!!)
Live Forever
Champagne Supernova
I Am the Walrus

We'll skip over the fact that Hello includes a sample from a Gary Glitter song, and get straight the point that it's fucking mega.

Hundreds of thousands of people singing those songs back to you, five years after singing it in dingy clubs and living out of a van? Very well fucking played.

Words by Mark McGowan

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