Finally caught up with Supersonic, the new Oasis doc put together by Matt Whitecross. What a hoot, and a toot, it is.
Very much concentrating on the three-year rise of the band from bedroom to playing gigs the size of Maine Road and Knebworth in 1996, Supersonic recaptures the brief, heady and ruinous rush of what it must be like being in the world’s hottest band and simply not giving a flying fook about anything.
Noel and Liam’s retrospective candour adds layers of perspective to the unfolding narrative – but you couldn’t call any of it regret or even hindsight. Indeed, being asked to look back in anger on their formative years seems to spark both of them off again on their arrogant absorption. Whitecross eggs them on eagerly.
And why not? Most of what they’re spilling is gold – funny, cocky, probably bullshit, definitely maybe brilliant. I wasn’t a massive Oasis fan, but the sheer rock energy and mad for it swagger is infectious. You remember just how ingrained they were in Britpop culture of the time, taking an era by the scruff of the neck and defining it in all its druggie, sexy glory. Shit, they even got invited to 10 Downing Street.
The film decides to focus on the brothers, on family. There’s lots of Mum, Peggy Gallagher, and a darker mention of the boys’ disappeared father. it’s a story of sibling rivalry, of love and hate, of Cain and Abel even. But it’s also about being young and dumb and full of drugs. Sex doesn’t come into it, nor money – it’s all about getting out there, playing, shouting, swaggering, preening, proving yourself and sticking two fingers up at anything and everyone.
Of course the story isn’t over after Knebworth. I saw them play Dublin’s Lansdowne Park once, must have been in July 2000, and they were tremendous, crackling with tension and Guiness. One of the best gigs I’ve ever seen. The story arguably got more interesting, with the girlfriends, the wives, the fighting, the badly-received albums. Maybe there’s another film in there, about the fall from grace, but it’s a different film.
Supersonic is about the ascent, the touching greatness, the being in a band, the thrill of having a helicopter and having crowds chant your lyrics; so as such, because it is about the fleetingness of the moment, of youth, it has wistfulness aplenty, as well as muscular, laddish abandon. Thinking about Ron Howard’s recent hagiogrpahy of The Beatles: 8 Days A Week, you realise how boring that made their life and music look – Supersonic does the exact opposite: it soars, snarls and snorts, and doesn’t say sorry for anything to anyone. Why should it? Why should it even tell the whole truth? It captures the spirit of a time and a moment, like rock does, not like cold history can. And that’s what makes it a great little rock doc.
Supersonic is still in some cinemas but out on DVD on October 31