Friday, 14 October 2016

Supersonic (2016)

"Noel has a lot of buttons, Liam has a lot of fingers; it’s that simple"

Supersonic might just be the funniest, most feelgood music documentary in recent years. And I mean, laugh out loud on several occasions funny - with one bit in which Liam discusses Scott McLeod's brief tenure with the band being met by gales of laughter  in the screening I was at, and rightly so. Directed by Mat Whitecross, a filmmaker with a rather diverse and under the radar career perhaps best defined with his Ian Dury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll and his rather sweet Spike Island both of which hint at his musical tastes, this documentary film doesn't set out to be the complete story of Oasis (which makes Peter Bradshaw's criticisms that the film stops in 1996 in his review for The Guardian rather stranger and completely redundant - what's up squinty Pete, didn't get the memo matey? Lazy, ignorant reviewing) instead it focuses simply on their meteoric two and a half year rise to super(sonic) stardom from 1993 to their landmark two-night Knebworth gigs in 1996 - a moment in time that Noel rightly called 'history' right there on the stage and expands upon it further in the film, arguing that such an event would be impossible in this digital, talent show world. Britpop really was the end of an era and Oasis rode high. As such, the film depicts a mostly positive relationship between Liam and Noel, with only a few tumultuous and often wildly hilarious bumps in the road, rather than the acrimonious split that was to come - though Whitecross doesn't shy away from the intense sibling rivalry and rightly shadows the fallout with a portentous scene early on in the film which sees Liam declare to the band that he'd been reading the Bible recently and found much to compare between him and his older brother and "that Abel and....Cable"

With both Liam and Noel participating with voiceover reminiscences (along with Bonehead, Mark Coyle and many other key figures) this truly is a first hand account not just of the band, but also of their lives. The snaps of a grinning, gauche teenage Liam and Noel strumming a guitar in preparation for his duties as the roadie for Inspiral Carpets warm the hearts and amuse the audience as well as reminding us that these acrimonious rock giants are, first and foremost, brothers; ordinary working class siblings from a council estate in Burnage. The archive footage may make much of the Gallagher brothers legendary arrogance, but Whitecross' film delves deeper to capture a candid and heartfelt account of these ordinary lads with extraordinary talent, with both men cannily astute enough to know the part they had to play for the media, with Noel claiming that his role before the cameras was always to be a 'gobshite' whilst Liam shunned all the aspects of music and songwriting to be 'over there, looking cool as fuck' They knew what was required of them, and they delivered in spades. They were, as some might say, mad fer it.

"None of this matters," Noel says at one point, when discussing his abusive father's attempts to inveigle himself into the limelight, and their difficult relationship with him "What will remain is the songs" He could almost be talking about the current impasse between him and Liam. But yes, we have the songs - and oh what songs they are, soundtrack to the lives of so many of my generation - but we sadly do not have Oasis any more, and that's a real shame. Whatever your thoughts on a reunion - will they, won't they, should they, shouldn't they - you can't deny that the world was a better, brighter and more eventful place with them.


  1. Great review - I look forward to catching it myself. Noel can be very eloquent when he wants to be and, when doing stuff like Desert Island Discs or John Wilson's Mastertapes, he talks very candidly about himself, his brother and his (old) band.