That Time Oasis Played Dundee

Be Here Now or ‘Noel’s Going Under Tonight’. That Time Oasis Played Dundee! Oasis visited Dundee on 4 April 1994. Over the years I’ve heard so many people claim to have attended this show you’d have thought it occurred over 3 or 4 nights at the Caird Hall but the reality was that it occurred in a small venue, Lucifer’s Mill, in Session Street.

In 2016 Dave Nolan’s book, I Swear I Was There: Sex Pistols, Manchester and the Gig That Changed the World, sparked off a resurgence of interest in the two visits of The Sex Pistols to the Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall in the summer of 1976. If every single person who claimed over the years to have attended those gigs had really been there, The Sex Pistols would have been playing a year-long residency in the 150 capacity venue rather than two nights separated over the months. The reality was that both shows were far from sold out with only 40 paying customers attending the first show. Though it has to be said, what an audience it was, containing future musical luminaries such as Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley who organised the gigs but weren’t quite ready as a band to fulfil the support slot on the first night on 4 June which went to Slaughter and the Dogs, Morrissey and some youngsters from Salford who would go on to form Joy Division. There perhaps weren’t many people there but what an impact it had. Buzzcocks played at the second visit of the Pistols on 20 July. The rest they say is history.

Only 17 advance tickets were sold for the Dundee show ( see above sheet of record of advance sales). Less than a week before the show only 2 tickets had been sold.

Dundee’s own version of this is the visit of Oasis to Dundee on 4 April 1994. Over the years I’ve heard so many people claim to have attended this show you’d have thought it occurred over 3 or 4 nights at the Caird Hall but the reality was that it occurred in a small venue, Lucifer’s Mill, in Session Street and was attended by more people than that Manchester debut by The Sex Pistols, but not by much more. If my memory serves me right there were 74 paying punters on the night and drummer Tony McCarroll would later recall only 17 advance tickets were sold ahead of the show. At the time, Alan McGee, the man behind Creation Records, was touting them as the ‘next big thing’, but then again McGee was always touting his latest ‘findings’ as the ‘next big thing’ and many of them ended up barely yesterday’s news in a short time – any fans of Arnold, 18 Wheeler or Heavy Stereo out there? True, there was a minor buzz around Oasis with a demo getting some airplay and tracks appearing on magazine cover mounts but a lot of bands experienced that kind of early buzz as ‘next big things’ were the currency of the music world in these days. I was familiar with a few songs, I thought they sounded raw but decent and was a fan of Creation Records so took a punt and came along more in hope than expectation. By then I had heard the forthcoming debut single, ‘Supersonic’ and thought it was rather good though not as good as ‘Cigarette and Alcohol’ so my curiosity was well and truly piqued.

Letter above is from Oasis management confirming the Dundee show.

Trying to cast my mind back over 26 years is a difficult thing to do. I remember liking Oasis live but thinking they most definitely weren’t going to be that illusive ‘next big thing’, which really shows why a career in A&R was never going to be the path for me. The gig was a bit subdued; I think a fair few people were there for the support, Glasgow’s 18 Wheeler who weren’t my thing at all. I interviewed the band afterwards in the backstage area of Lucifer’s Mill, though to be honest it was really Noel who did the interview insisting the others had nothing of importance to say. Even then, Noel was pretty confident. Liam wandered in and out the dressing room and came across as though he wasn’t quite on the same planet and the others were largely absent or silent.

On the day of the gig the band seemed quite friendly and down to earth.  A new stage was being installed in Lucifer’s Mill as the existing ‘stage’ wasn’t deemed to be of sufficient use for live gigs. At the point the band arrived the stage wasn’t quite completed and a couple of parts had to be collected. Oasis offered the use of their van to go and collect the last pieces of the puzzle but thankfully, their assistance wasn’t required. Once the stage was completed they did their soundcheck. Prior to that Liam checked out the quality of the stage by bouncing up and down on it vigorously while chanting ‘Noel’s going under tonight’. The stage withstood the gig and many more over the years. Going through the stage might have found you landing in Sessions bar downstairs to the bemusement of the punters. At a later Inspiral Carpets show, a band Noel used to work for, the sell-out show convinced the owner of Sessions that the sky, or at least the ceiling, was about to fall on their heads and they called the authorities. My theory was they were jealous as Lucifer’s Mill was quite the popular and happening place at the time while Sessions was struggling. The authorities deemed there to be no threat to life and Chicken-Licken downstairs didn’t get to go see the King. Or the licensing board for that matter. Anyway, that’s another story for another day perhaps. Oasis arrived with their gear in flight cases with ‘Inspiral Carpets’ stenciled on them. A few weeks later at the Carpets show, John asked the band about this and Inspiral Carpets advised that Oasis had nicked them. It’s probably just as well Noel never had to go back to his previous job as roadie as I doubt he was going to get a glowing reference from his old employers.

Press pack for the Dundee show which contained press cuttings, biog and promo b/w prints.

Reading back over the original article it’s hilarious how easy it was to get access to the band at that point. There was no contacting management or PR folk to get permission, I just walked in with an old-fashioned tape recorder and said I would like to interview the band. Someone called Belinda (I can’t recall her surname now) took photographs during and after the interview but I never did see them and I haven’t seen or heard of her in 20-odd years so I doubt they will ever come to light. I found Oasis friendly enough, Noel was easy to chat to but on the night, I thought they had some fine songs, lacked charisma and was no way convinced that they would be anything more than a good wee band. By the time it came to writing up the introduction to the interview which appeared in the summer I had acknowledged that they were probably on their way to being huge and so they did. It’s interesting to see how enthusiastic I had become about the band by the summer. Myself and a large section of the music-buying world.

Calender from 1994 with Oasis in the diary for their show in Dundee on 5th April.

The article concerning Tony McCarroll’s memories of the show is quite an interesting snapshot of the time. However, I don’t recall any on-site autographs being left on the wall of the backstage area or Manchester City F.C. graffiti. I’m sure had there been any it would have been carefully removed from the wall and flogged at auction as within months of the gig Oasis were well on their way to being enormous stars, or a least the Gallagher brothers were.

Oasis promo shot for their first UK headline tour.

Over time I came to find Oasis quite annoying – the at times boorish lad culture they seemed to revel in, the obsession with being the biggest band in the world and the big houses, big cars and celebrity partners – but most of all, the fact that they never seemed to musically progress beyond a certain point. However, for a short period you couldn’t escape them, they were everywhere and really, that’s still the story today, morning glory. Meanwhile, the other bands who featured in issue 2 of our fanzine, Cute Kids on Medication were Eugenius, Delicious Monster, Sidi Bou Said and Flame Up. With the exception of Eugenius, most of you will be asking who? But we loved these bands as well.

Before I offer up the archive interview, can any you, hand on heart, swear you were there? I was there 

‘Is it my imagination, or have we finally found something worth living for?’

Flyer for the Dundee show - the Dundee show was also their first ever headline show in Scotland.

The opening lines to the fantastic ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol; could be quite prophetic as Oasis are a breath of fresh air in a year that’s major ‘scene’ is the laughable ‘New wave of new wave’ which appears to be a bunch of people who think punk was Sham 69 and produce manifestos in place of songs. Oasis have no manifesto, no rules and therefore no boundaries. They exist purely to write and play perfect pop songs with melodies and hooks big enough to captivate even the terminally tone deaf.

Despite being dubbed ‘The best new band blah blah blah’ in some quarters – we usually lynch these bands around here mate – Oasis transcend the usual insipid garbage that masquerades under that tag. (Suede being a prime example of The Emperor’s new clothes award for failing to have more than one song, and only half a decent song at that!) Although there is a good deal of hype surrounding the band, they have delivered an excellent debut single in the form of ‘Supersonic’ with its brilliant tune carrying some of the most nonsensical lyrics ever to grace these ears since the world last sighted Shaun Ryder pre-rehab! Their live performance proved that ‘Supersonic’ is no one-off stroke of luck but just the mere beginning of something special.

Letter confiming Glasgow band 18 Wheeler as support ( they were also signed to Creation Records).

Anyway by the time you read this you’ll probably have waded your way through tons of fawning press comparing Oasis to everyone from The Beatles downwards, and yes, they probably will be bigger than Jesus, so we decided to hear what the band had to say for themselves and interviewed them backstage at Lucifers Mill where they had just played a blinder of a gig.

Despite constant interruptions from a rather obnoxious drunk (whom we will refer to as ‘Prat’ during this interview) guitarist and songwriter Noel Gallagher patiently answered our questions.

How did Oasis come together?

He (Liam) said ‘I’m in a band’ and I said, well if you’re in them they must be crap. They did this gig at the Boardwalk and I went along to see them and they were shit but I ended up joining anyway.

Prat enters the room – Hey I’ve barged my way backstage to see youse and I don’t even like you.

At this point it’s pointed out by Liam that ‘Prat’ has a rather large wet patch covering the crotch of his jeans. We decide to be helpful.

Ehm, the toilets are that way.

Prat – Oh no, I’ve no wet myself – it’s beer. To Noel – Have you ever been to Largs? There’s a disco there called Oasis. Getting to response and comments from Liam about having ‘pissed himself’ Prat exits stage left.

Have any of you been in any other bands?

Just speak to me. The rest of them have got fuck all to say. They used to be in this crap band who had this song that went ba-ba-ba-ba-ba. What were they called? Oh, they were called The Rain.

Do you worry that things are happening too fast, that people might think it’s all a hype?

No, I don’t think things are happening too fast. People might see it as a hype, well some of it is a hype but that’s not us. I mean we didn’t just form yesterday and get a record deal. We’ve had two and a half years of this.

What do you feel about the other bands on Creation?

Bands on Creation… Ehm… Boo Radleys, I’ve not heard enough by them. Ride are good, Teenage Fanclub are okay. To be honest we don’t know much about a lot of other bands on the label. 18 Wheeler are nice people and have some good songs. It was weird how we got signed. We were playing at this club in Glasgow opening for 18 Wheeler and Alan McGee just showed up.

The line in ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ goes ‘There’s nothing worth living for.’ Is this true? Do you see the work ethic as being dead?

Well who wants to waste their time working when there are better things to do? I mean we’ve had jobs, shit jobs but I’ve better things I want to do with my life. If you have a job and love it then that’s fine. I know guys who are bricklayers and they get something out of it. I used to have this job I liked making fish tanks. I loved that job. I’d see fish swimming in tanks and think ‘I made your fucking home!’

Some of the sentiments expressed in the song’s lyrics are quite political. Is this intentional?

We are political but not in a soapbox Billy Bragg way. It’s more personal. Definitely personal politics because I write about things in my life. I don’t see any point in going on marches or demonstrations. I mean you hear things about people on anti-racist marches chucking things at black policemen and that worries me.

What would you say to someone who said that personal politics were just escapist and avoided confronting ‘real issues’?

Anyone who says that personal politics is escapist or avoiding real issues is a fool. I’d ask them exactly what did they believe in themselves.

Where did you get your (fetching blue star-shaped) tambourine from?

I bought Liam it. It was £9.99 and he didn’t even say thank you…

And at that point, we did say thank you to Noel and after the legendary / mythical pictures were taken (the ones that were never seen) we left Oasis to their own devices on a rainy night in Dundee.