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Unanimous Decision

[whitespace] The members of Oasis live the life of rock stars; what the hell are you doing?

By Todd S. Inoue

If you come to an Oasis show expecting a bunch of guys leaping around, breaking strings and guitars, you're in for a disappointment. The key to loving Oasis is to allow leeway in theatrics and let the ears and heart take over. The "ayes" did have it Jan. 26 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, where Oasis and Cornershop performed for a packed house filled with English ex-pats.

Cornershop performed a tight package of its most popular songs. The success of "Brimful of Asha" (any song with the word "bosom" in the chorus must be good) has propelled Cornershop's unique blend of Eastern instrumentation with American hip-hop.

"Wog" wowed the audience with its Asian-pride sentiment backed by computer-generated images of belly dancers and Bollywood flicks. "Sleep on the Left Side," "Brimful" and "It's Indian Tobacco, My Friend" hit similar highs. The set climaxed with a 15-minute version of "6am Jullander Shere," with surprise accompaniment by Noel Gallagher on bass. To the side, brother Liam could be seen grooving to the hypnotic beat.

The stage was set for Oasis to prove its mettle, to make the most of its outrageous boasts. To the sound of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town," England's finest--the brothers Gallagher, guitarist Paul Arthurs, bassist Paul McGuigan, drummer Alan White and two keyboardists--marched on stage and set the night ablaze with "Be Here Now."

The crowd let out a howl, and bouncers began pulling exhausted fans over the barricade. The excitement dissipated toward the back and up into the bleacher seats, where the fans were as immobile as the Queen Mum's hip. "You lazy fat bastards," chided Liam Gallagher, tambourine in hand. "Come on, you can dance."

Part of Oasis' appeal is Liam's terminal narcissism and comfort level with the trappings of rock stardom. From the way he busses his mates on and off stage to his nodding gaze surveying the swaying crowd, Liam's actions seem as normal as tying knots. He's cooler than the other side of the pillow in the world's greatest rock & roll band. Even the microphone is unworthy of his lips; he playfully knocked it to the ground numerous times with his tambourine.

As much as its actions alienate some music fans, Oasis mines a bounty of crystalline pop gems. "Wonderwall," "Roll With It" and "Supersonic" each elicited lusty chants from the crowd. Noel spun a superb acoustic set; a cover of the Beatles' "Help!" was strong and free of irony.

And Oasis can crank up the emotional hydrants. The epic "Champagne Supernova" nearly sent everyone to therapy. On "Live Forever," Liam sang his lines pitch-perfect to a chorus of angel-faced, lager-soaked voices:

    Maybe I just want to fly I want to live, I don't want to die Maybe I just want to breath Maybe I just don't believe Maybe you're the same as me We see things they'll never see You and I are gonna live forever

Arthurs and Gallagher dueled on the twirling guitar leads that close "Live Forever" and once again, the microphone hit the ground with a thud, Liam hovering over it like Muhammed Ali over Sonny Liston. On this rainy night in San Francisco, this judge's scorecard read: Manchester 5, the World 0.

Oasis, Jan. 26, 1998, at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco.

Intro: The Boys Are Back in Town (Thin Lizzy)
Be Here Now
Stand By Me
Roll With It
Do You Know What I Mean?
Cigarettes and Alcohol
Don't Go Away (acoustic)
Talk Tonight (acoustic)
Help! (acoustic)
Free to Be (acoustic)
Don't Look Back in Anger
Live Forever
It's Getting Better Man
Champagne Supernova

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Web extra to the January 29-February 4, 1998 issue of Metro.

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