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‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’ review

Witness legends making history in Jake Scott’s deeply-affecting Oasis documentary.

Oasis Knebworth 1996
Credit: Trafalgar Releasing/Sony

‘Where were you while we were getting high?’. That’s what a friend said to me at the end of the night on Saturday 10th Aug 1996 when I finally reunited with my group. We got separated just before Oasis took to the stage at Knebworth. In my infinite and slightly inebriated wisdom, I thought that I could use the brief intermission after The Prodigy left the stage to grab a few more beers and then find them again easily in a sea of 125k people. It turns out I could not. Saturday 10th August 1996 is a date forever burnt into my memory as one of the greatest days of my life. Seeing Oasis live at their zenith was an experience I’ll never forget, and a feeling that is brought vividly back to life in ‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’, an emotionally charged and utterly absorbing documentary of an era-defining moment. This is history, never to be repeated.

An affecting ode to the greatest gig of a generation, ‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’ perfectly captures the magic of the band and the very soul of a fandom that got to experience their blinding brilliance first-hand. There’s no mobile phones, no internet and everyone is completely transfixed onto the stage, sharing a collective moment that will never be replicated. It was the absolute perfect time to see Oasis live – two historic all-time classic albums in the bag (‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory’ and a third (‘Be Here Now’) imminently on its way. Britpop had reached its pinnacle, with Cool Britannia ruling the world and Oasis leading the charge. Knebworth represented the culmination of some of the greatest years this country has ever experienced in the modern era.

A deeply emotional ride that lingers long in the soul, ‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’ completely delighted me from start to finish. Director Jake Scott has done a tremendous job in bringing all of the archive footage together to form this timepiece. The film documents both nights at Knebworth. Thankfully, both full sets from Sat 10th and Sun 11th Aug 1996 will be added onto the upcoming Blu-ray release for the first time ever. As Noel had said in the past, he’s glad that they didn’t release this footage back in the day. With years of retrospect under its belt, this timely 25th anniversary revisit has only helped preserve the legacy of the concerts and the band. ‘You had to have been there’ is still a term that aptly applies here, but perhaps the greatest compliment I can give to ‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’ is that this film made me feel like I was right back there – and that’s a remarkable feeling to evoke.

Oasis at Knebworth was an incredible event that changed the face of music and the lives of everyone who attended it, including myself. This is more than a concert – it’s a cultural marker. History – right here, right now, as Noel Gallagher said many times during that weekend. The sheer spectacle is a fitting tribute to the best band in the world, marking out a joyous journey into the world of true rock ‘n’ roll stars with a crescendo of attitude, laughs and true musical genius at its core.

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A timeless tale of a band and the strong relationship they had with their fans, the film uses the Oasis fandom as the spine of its tale. Contributors from the Oasis fan club and others were encouraged to contact the website with their personal stories from that weekend a quarter of a century ago. These stories are used as a framing mechanism to the concert footage itself, with on-the-ground footage of Knebworth revellers being asked questions like ‘What gift would you give to Oasis?’ punctuated across the 1hr 50min runtime.

A glorious snapshot of history never to be repeated, the footage is a joy to watch and reminds you of the good-feeling that was actively present across the two nights. There was only one arrest during the whole event – that stat is truly remarkable in itself.  There are a few fan stories that feature actors reconstructing some of their experiences. The credits at the end of the film feature photographs of the key fan-contributors and thanks them for their help in constructing the movie. The emotion I felt whilst watching this film took me by surprise. I expected to enjoy it, I expected to feel excitement and emotion, but in certain parts I was transported right back onto the grass of Knebworth, with a plastic cup in-hand, singing my heart out in a field of euphoric strangers who, for a brief period of time, were one. The emotion conjured up when tracks like ‘The Masterplan’ and ‘Cast No Shadow’ (which at the time, the Gallagher’s dedicated to The Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft) was truly palpable, and genuine tears were shed. The film is a succession of glorious goosebump moments that hit you squarely in the heart.

Oasis Knebworth 1996 is one of the best music documentaries ever made – a glorious snapshot of history that will Live Forever, and a superb insight into the absolute zenith of Britpop glory. It’s a heartfelt homage to a band and their fans – a band made of the people and for the people, that captured lightning in a bottle. The energy, the music, the magic – it’s all here. Liam and Noel were at the absolute height of their powers, and as the brilliant Mat Whitecross documentary ‘Supersonic’ showed, things would never be as euphoric for the band as those two glorious nights in Hertfordshire, that had the entire world hooked.

‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’ is a deeply emotive journey through the last great era of music – one that does the Oasis legacy true justice and embraces your soul as you remember where you were when this history was made. Not only a captivating chronicle of classic rock, ‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’ is an utterly absorbing account that’s equal parts rousing, raucous and full of swagger. ‘Where were you while we were getting high?’. I find myself thinking about that moment with my friends at the end of the night on Aug 10th 1996. The trip home was long but the euphoria of that night has stuck with me all these years later. And this film captured that essence perfectly. I felt privileged to have been a part of this monumental moment in time – a musical odyssey that shines brightly and leaves you feeling, well… supersonic. ‘Oasis Knebworth 1996’ is an unmissable watch. Witness legends making history.

Cast: Liam Gallagher, Noel Gallagher, Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs, Alan White, Paul McGuigan Director: Jake Scott Certificate: 15 Duration: 110 mins Released by: Trafalgar Releasing Release date: 23rd September 2021

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