Oasis - Knebworth 1996

Oasis - Knebworth 1996 ★★★★

Some might say Oasis performing to 250,000 people across a weekend in the summer of ‘96 was the definitive musical moment of the decade. Oasis: Knebworth 1996 makes it hard to disagree. At the heart of the film, which is part-documentary part-concert, is a band at the top of their game.

Setting it a cut above other concert films is director Jake Scott’s focus on why it all mattered. Voiceovers of attendees set the scene: the mad panic to buy tickets, the journey to Knebworth, getting to the front of the barrier. They tell it with fond nostalgia, reflecting on a carefree youth which looked very different to today’s world. There were no mobile phones and there was sociopolitical optimism for the first time in decades. Oasis – a working class band from council estates up north – were part of that hope.

The shows happened at the perfect time, and what makes the film so remarkable is how simply it makes that point. The gender-balanced crowd precedes the laddish following Oasis would later have; Noel Gallagher’s song-writing was never better, neither was Liam’s voice. The show itself is given plenty of time, including cuts from both nights and unseen footage, with an album to follow.

It’s comparable to a film like Dazed and Confused where a young cast of characters coalesce for one significant moment. Instead of leaving school, it’s attending a concert, one which no one had any idea would become a cultural landmark. It’s impossible not to get swept up in it all and the feeling that there’s nothing more important than live music.

Interviews with the band are a nice touch for fans, but it’s the attendees’ voices that make it a must-see for everyone. Thinking back on the best day of their lives, you can hear the glint in their eyes and the purest smiles. Getting to share that with them is a privilege.