With social distancing putting a hold on live events, I am talking a walk down memory lane to reflect on the 10 most memorable concerts I have seen. This is not a list of the ten best shows, but rather the ones that have left the most indelible memories.
Oasis was a band built for COVID-19. Noel and Liam Gallagher practiced social distancing long before it became status quo. In 2008 the kings of Britpop made a stop in Camden, NJ filled with the awkwardness you would expect from a breakup tour.
On December 19, 2008 Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, Matt Costa, and Oasis stumbled into the Susquehanna Bank Center (now BB&T Pavilion). Before the caravan arrived in New Jersey, the Dig Out Your Soul Tour was already marred by a fan assaulting Noel Gallagher on stage in Toronto.
The ominous start to the tour revealed itself in Camden. The fans in the arena were energetic. The three bands, however, displayed different levels of interest in being there.
The first opener, Matt Costa, was the most professional of the three and played a tight set. At the time, Costa was supporting just his second full-length album, Unfamiliar Faces. Being the first of three bands is not an easy task for an opener, especially in a half-empty arena ready for stadium anthems. His set turned out to be the most normal.
As the Susquehanna Bank Center filled up, Ryan Adams & the Cardinals laid down one of the more bizarre shows you could encounter. The music itself was phenomenal. The band were touring off their fourth album, Cardinology, which was esteemed enough to rank fourteenth on Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2008.
The onstage aspect of the Cardinals was lost in a haze. Most of the banter was centered on the band and did not engage the audience. In their presumably substance-altered state, it was hard to know how aware they were of their surroundings. It was like watching a band in a studio, just with a few thousand people on the other side of the glass.
Oasis took the stage as a band on the opposite swing on the social pendulum. The band were more cognizant of the crowd. The Gallagher brothers were visibly paying each other no mind. Liam would be on stage for the songs with his lead vocals, but left when it was Noel’s turn to take the mic. It happened with enough frequency that it stood out from most front men at least playing the tambourine when they aren’t singing.
Somewhere in between Brit Rock staples like “Lyla” and “Morning Glory,” Noel sarcastically reminded fans that Camden, NJ was the murder capital of the world. Statistically speaking, he noted that some of them were likely to be murdered after the show. After being booed, he retorted that he didn’t make up the statistics.
All was presumably forgiven after the band launched into another hit, but it goes without saying that the un-comforting gallows humor was on track for the tour. Oasis was a band with long-accepted quirks that were part of their charm, but the tension was visible even from a few sections away. The remainder of the tour was filled with turmoil, making the Susquehanna Bank Center show a relative success.
- The Chinese government revoked their license after discovering Noel Gallagher had performed at a Free Tibet Concert.
- Generator failures forced the band to offer refunds to fans at a 70,000-person concert.
- Sound problems disrupted the end of “Wonderwall” at Wembley Stadium“Wonderwall” at Wembley Stadium, prompting the audience to sing the end.
- The band pulled out of the V Festival after Liam Gallagher declared he had laryngitis. After Noel said his brother had a hangover, a lawsuit was filed until the allegation was publicly withdrawn.
After Liam threw fruit and swung a guitar at his brother, the band withdrew from the Rock en Seine Festival minutes before it was about to begin. Later that same evening, Noel Gallagher formally announced the Oasis breakup online. 12 years later, the whirling dervish that are Oasis reunion rumors resurfaced (again) through Liam Gallagher’s unfiltered twitter account. As unlikely as it is, a one-off gig with the brothers together during the initial COVID-19 social distancing period would be an ironic and fitting conclusion to the Oasis saga.