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Still rolling with it; It'snow more than a decade since Oasis played three groundbreaking concerts at Knebworth. As they prepare to take to the Millennium Stadium stage tonight, are they still as valid today? Devotee David Owens mounts an argument for the defence.

TONIGHT the monobrowed Oasis music machine swaggers into Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, ready to unleash an impressive armoury of hits that are sure to have an expectant crowd singing themselves hoarse to those heart-embroidered anthems that have become familiar to millions.

However, as Oasis race through a pulsating selection of the songs that have embedded themselves in the national psyche, questions will again be asked if this is the Gallagher brothers' last hurrah.

To admit to being an Oasis fan circa 2009 is now akin to committing something of a horrendous social faux pas.

As those other soon-to-be Mancunian visitors to the Millennium Stadium, Take That, have risen phoenix-like, triumphant from the cruel dictates of critical indifference and fickle fashion to forge a second coming, Liam and Noel find themselves in an altogether different place to their legendary '90s incarnation.

Then when they were the greatest rock 'n' roll band to bestride the musical cosmos, the nation fell at their feet in idolatory worship. They were fully feted Britpop kings, undisputed rock royalty, and we, their loyal followers, bowed down in complete subjugation to their throne.

Now, though, they are oft viewed with derision.

"They're a spent force," snipe the critics with a sharpened axe to grind, without realising that most of their latter output, while not hitting the dizzying heights of their earlier work, still ranks alongside the best that British music has to offer.

It's just that when your first album was Definitely Maybe and your second was What's the Story Morning Glory, you will forever have to spend the rest of your career living in the shadow of your own legendary back catalogue.

Those snobbish critics may still spill their bile over the lack of intelligence in Oasis' music, but the Gallaghers - if they could be bothered, and they aren't - could point to achievements that would reduce to a trifling insignificance accusations of intellectual prejudice.

They've left a legacy that any future band will struggle to emulate.

They're responsible for songs that will forever be woven into the fabric of the nation's musical consciousness, they've paved the way for a host of fine young pretenders and they've created some of the most epochal headlines in rock 'n' roll history.

Of those, Knebworth was their zenith - a gargantuan underlining of the redemptive power of music to unite people from disparate backgrounds, a seething mass of humanity, brought together in joyful union - in the grounds of a stately home in Hertfordshire.

This is why we love Oasis. It's as much about the emotions involved in their congregational pulling power as it is about the skyscraping anthems. Songs fired by adrenaline and melody that soar into the ether, sung with gusto from the stage and returned with equal conviction by an enormous call and response choir.

Oasis - the 2009 model - have no truck with convention, don't feel the need to align themselves to any scene or trend and stands alone in their own belligerent belief that they are still the greatest rock band in the world.

This isolationist approach, while fuelling fire for their detractors, hasn't stopped an impressive roll call of names lining up to work with the band. See recent collaborations with folk maestro Devendra Banhart, The Prodigy, and anyone who's heard the 22 minute 28 second remix of Falling Down (from their new album Dig Out Your Soul) by psychedelic mind melders

Amorphous Androgynous will testify to Oasis' continued need to satisfy their musical instincts.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, while reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated by the music press, the public refuses to let them fade away. Each new album and tour is greeted with a fevered expectancy by a huge worldwide following.

Even when the music ranked a poor second to the fractious headlines of fallouts and feuds, Liam and Noel remained consistent in their desire to keep Oasis alive and the fans remained as loyal as ever.

They will arrive in Cardiff fresh from playing to 210,000 people over three nights in Heaton Park in Manchester, with reports that despite a technical hitch on the first night, their live show has moved up a notch.

And it's on stage that Oasis truly come into their own. A force-of-nature that can spin a venue off its axis with a hurricane-blast of energy and guitars.

Former Ride member Andy Bell, ex-Heavy Stereo guitarist Gem Archer and legendary sticksman-for-hire Chris Sharrock, have injected Oasis with the shot-in-the-arm they lacked with their original line-up - namely focus, professionalism and stage craft.

So when the sibling rivalry roadshow spills its contents onto the Millennium Stadium stage tonight, I'll be there to witness a spectacle still unique in its uncertainty.

Anything can happen and probably will, especially with the Gallagher brothers, a double act without compare, in our midsts.

And with Kasabian, The Enemy, and Rhys Ifans (with his band The Peth) on crutches in a supporting cast, that's the noughties answer to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Jam and a hobbling Welsh Hollywood hellraiser all set to appear for your very own entertainment.

And you're telling me that's not worth the admission fee alone? Oasis play the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, tonight
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 12, 2009
Words:864
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