On Saturday night, in row L-VV, two very different worlds collided. From the feathered top of his luxurious mullet to the silver tips of his black leather boots, the sullen, shifty-eyed roughneck in seat 75 had nothing in common with his fellow concert-goer in the next chair. In seat 76 sat a Graham Coxon lookalike nattily attired in Ben Sherman threads and a purple anorak. As he withdrew a fancy cigarette case from the folds of his corduroys, the fact that his body weight represented roughly the right leg of the hockey-hair’d yeti sitting next to him didn’t seem to fluster the brit-pop dandy. Just as nonchalantly, the resident of 75 lifted the hem of his long-sleeved Dio shirt (from the Majica Tour 2000. Who knew?), drawing from his acid-washed pocket a crumpled pack of smokes. And with a flick of his Zippo, he lit up a slightly bent Winston. Just then, bizarro Jarvis Cocker was in a funk. His Dunhill stuck unlit from the corner of his mouth. As he felt his pockets, a gruff voice next to him breathed hot cheese-fry breath in his ear.
“Hey man, you need a light?”
Such was the scene Saturday night as Oasis and the Black Crowes rolled into Detroit’s DTE Energy Music Theatre for a night of the rock. The “Tour of Brotherly Love” had been predicated upon the infamous petulance of each band’s sibling nucleus – the close-fitted Liam and Noel Gallagher uniting in denim with the bell-bottoms of Chris and young Rich Robinson. As their respective sets proved, both bands and all four brothers came to rock, not pout. But what was perhaps not predicted beforehand were the hundreds of unlikely meetings in the pavilion and out on the hill. Legions of hi-fiving Camaro rockers sharing close quarters with fancyboys in pegged jeans and caeser-cuts.
The bland glitter rock of Spacehog opened the show. These morons in oversized 70s aviators don’t wear their influences on their sleeve – they stole their influences’ shirt. When vocalist Royston Langdon’s tiresome yowl was mercifully silenced, it was not clear whether the band’s Bowie’d out histrionics had done anything other than remind people that Spacehog’s shining moment – their 1996 single “In The Meantime” – still sucks. But soon enough, the simple black Oasis banner dropped, and a hokey, country-fried “Strawberry Fields” instrumental led the lads onstage. The intro was an interesting choice. The brothers Gallagher didn’t make it clear whether they were pulling one over on their Midwestern crowd, adding in a banjo over the rhythms of their beloved Beatles. Were they trying to get hip to the Crowes’ southern harmony? Who knows. At any rate, no banjos, free-jams or gospel preaching were present in Oasis’ muscular set of rockers. Choosing to focus on their more aggressive material (“What’s The Story (Morning Glory)”; “Acquiesce”) was a good plan. Many mullets shook to the sounds of Noel’s clean Les Paul solos. And Liam was up to his old tricks, at once taunting and energizing the crowd with his snidely stoic stage persona. But for a few “cheers” here and there, the brothers were silent. However, in prawpa roight fooking roughkskstah fashion, Noel did find time to dedicate one of his own songs to himself. For the Man U set with Union Jacks unfurled, the band’s set was a real gem. Besides opener “Go Let It Out” and the atmospheric “Gas Panic!,” the entire hour was taken up by older material. In perhaps another nod to their touring partners, the end of Oasis’ signature “Cigarettes & Alcohol” morphed into Jimmy Page’s towering riff from “Whole Lotta Love.” 40,000 britpoppers and AC/DC rockers pumped their fists in unison.
Despite their continued international dominance, Oasis has seen a steady decline in US album sales since their “Wonderwall” salad days. While 1997’s Be Here Now was critically panned everywhere, last year’s Standing on the Shoulder of Giants was a much stronger album, and helped the boys reclaim some domestic street cred. However, they seem to have settled with their established US audience of brit-rock freaks and the occasional shmoopy couple whose special song is “Wonderwall.” The Black Crowes have followed a similar path. After the heady success of 1990’s Shake Your Money Maker, the Crowes moved away from the muddy Rolling Stones vibe that made that album great, eventually drifting into a Southern-style jam band complete with organ and gospel backup singers. Like Oasis, their LPs have seen steady sales within their fan base, but with a twist. Since Chris Robinson, et al are really the only band out there consistently blending weed, distortion, and classic-rock jamming into a marketable stew, they attract a cross-section of the American population that likes its Coors Light cold and back of its neck warm. So the Tour of Brotherly Love isn’t that bad of an idea after all, from a demographic standpoint, even if it makes the crowd mix a little funny. Case in point. A middle-aged couple in flannels and Zubaz were overheard as they waited for beer. She had never even heard of Oasis, and theorized that Liam Gallagher was gay because he played the tambourine (?). Her husband shuffled his feet, shrugged and said “I liked the beat. They rocked.”
And back in row L-VV, the blue smoke from Winstons and Dunhills mixed in the air as the Marshall Stacks blared. Perhaps no new friends were made, but at least everyone had Rock and Roll in common. And that ain’t Hard to Handle at all.
One thought on “OASIS AND THE BLACK CROWES? TOGETHER?”
Given that this would basically be the the equivalent of holding a Formula 1 race as the support race for a NASCAR event, I’m sure it would be a hoot, er, gas…
The question remains: In this day and age of maximum segmentation for maximum profit, where “diversity” just means fracturing the marketing demographic numbers, did anyone “get” the other side? Are there any poseurs dating beer sluts as a result of this concert? Will there be a Love Child in 9 months that comes out of the womb demanding to listen to Exile?
After all, that’s what Brit-pop meets Southern Rock sounds like. And a little grass’ll get you through that coming-down-from-X-and-RedBull as well as anything