“Great to look at, great to drive and it’ll fucking spin out of control every now and again”. These are the carefully chosen words of Liam Gallagher as he compares the turbulent history of Oasis to a Ferrari in typically comedic style for the band’s new film Supersonic. Behind the camera was a team that really did know their music, with director Mat Whitecross (Spike Island and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll) teaming up with Academy Award winning producer Asif Kapadia (Amy and Senna). Supersonic sees the duo tackle one of the most beloved British bands of all time, and a period when British pop culture was at its peak. Documenting Oasis’ rise from the council flats of Manchester to certified rock gods in the short space of five years.
“Whitecross does well to still make the Gallagher brothers come across as honest and talented”
This well crafted and expertly edited documentary, gives great insight into the glory days of Britpop and two of its lairiest characters, with the intense rivalry between the potty-mouthed brothers, taking centre stage. Supersonic’s greatest positive is the way it serves as a reminder to just how good Oasis once were. Watching them walk out at Maine Road and later Knebworth did make for thrilling viewing, as they booted large inflatable footballs into a crowd of adoring fans. The musical backdrop was equally excellent and a tease to audiences praying for their reunion. Whilst clearly arrogant, Whitecross does well to still make the Gallagher brothers come across as honest and talented, with Noel himself stating that ‘as individuals they were never the best at anything’. The film champions Oasis, showing them to encapsulate the era of ‘Cool Britannia’, with Whitecross shining particular focus on Noel’s song-writing talent in a period where he was so prolific, whilst Liam was more concerned with ‘looking cool as fuck’.
“these more intimate scenes provided the greatest insight into the psyche of oasis”
Most striking was the openness of the documentary. Amongst the big tunes and egotism, Whitecross’ lens explored some very personal themes through interviews with the brothers’ Irish mother Peggy, who opened up on their relationship with their estranged father who used to beat them as children. It was the probing of these darker aspects of their existence as a band that were the most revealing and made for some of the more poignant moments in the film. Whether it was media scandal, band member walk-outs or drug abuse, these more intimate scenes provided the greatest insight into the psyche of Oasis.
The film’s largest flaw isn’t so much its content but rather what it neglects as a result of its over-nostalgia. Nowhere to be seen was the rivalry with Blur or a mention of the Britpop scene that Oasis were a huge, defining part of. Nor was there any mention of the band’s struggle to follow up the epic (What’s the Story?) Morning Glory, or for that matter any of the band’s troubled existence beyond the high point of the summer of 1996 and their shows at Knebworth. This was something I was unaware of going into Supersonic, and as Liam Gallagher joked in the Q&A session that followed the screening, claiming that this is only half time in the Oasis story, it really did feel that way.
Supersonic does come across as a pop history lesson on the ‘good old days of rock n’ roll music’. The days before the internet got in the way when a couple of likely lads from Burnage, Manchester could sell out stadiums off the back of two huge albums and bucket loads of swagger. However Supersonic feels somewhat incomplete, with its glaring faults stemming from the film’s failure to look at the band’s capitulation and eventual demise in favour of dwelling on the good times. Yes it was good, and at times excellent and granted it would have been a squeeze fitting in the history of a band as colourful as Oasis into a two hour documentary, I just cannot help feeling that it could have been (in the words of Noel Gallagher) ‘biblical’.