By: Jillian Horn
Oasis/Ryan Adams & The Cardinals :: 12.03.08 :: Oracle Arena :: Oakland, CA
Kicking off their North American tour, Oasis stopped by Oakland's Oracle Arena to showcase hits old and new. Alt-country/rock singer Ryan Adams offered support with his band The Cardinals for a performance that pleased the decently-filled arena and got the rock juices flowing. For both acts, the songs were unbelievably well-selected, with the best of their extensive catalogues seamlessly sliding right between the new and unfamiliar. However, the two performances shared an unsettling commonality: A lack of interest.
| Ryan Adams :: 07.24 by Jay Blakesberg|
With twenty albums between both Oasis and Ryan Adams, it is more than fair to respectfully refer to each as veteran musicians who have more performances under their belt than most modern artists will ever last to see. However, being so well versed in the art of performance, it would also be fair to assume these guys could at least successfully pretend to care.
Ryan Adams & the Cardinals were short on audience interaction, but luckily redeemed themselves in their high-energy, electric performance of earlier solo Adams tracks and new Cardinals material. Performing against a simple backdrop of a black curtain and two electric blue roses, the set opened and closed with cuts off Cardinology, the fourth album from the group and their most recent release (see JamBase's review here). The audience appeared wary at first of the ultra-serious Adams, who stood modestly on the far left side of the stage, but positively welcomed him into their night as the band jumped from one up-beat track to another, never leaving a moment to doubt the sounds.
Some highlights included the sweet "Come Pick Me Up" off his 2000 debut Heartbreaker, as well as the popular "When the Stars Go Blue," which was originally recorded by Adams' first band Whiskeytown in the mid-nineties. Concluding with the Tom Petty-esque "Magick," Adams said a quick, "Bye, Thank You," and rushed offstage before the audience could even lift their hands to applaud.
The curtain then dropped to reveal a much larger stage set up for the headliners, and the crowd waited patiently for the band they paid much money to see. For most first-timers at an Oasis show, the mind explores a variety of expectations. What will they play? What does a performance from a group that's been around for almost twenty years look like? What antics will the Gallagher brothers engage in?
As the lights dimmed and lead singer Liam Gallagher stood onstage glaring with a tambourine clenched between his teeth, the answer to those questions was soon enough delivered. They kicked off the set with "Rock 'n' Roll Star," the very first track from their first release, Definitely Maybe. It was an appropriate opener, as it got the crowd up on their feet and set the tone for the remainder of the night, as Liam repeatedly shouted the chorus, "Tonight, I'm a rock 'n' roll star," over and over - which is exactly how he and his bandmates acted.
With Noel Gallagher and the other members virtually standing in place, all eyes were fixated on Liam, front and center, as he came across more like an egotistical zombie than a performer. To be fair, the off-putting, lack-of-interest style of the band may be the very essence of Oasis to many die-hards, who eat up their antics and scoff at those who may not "get it" - and that's fine. Music inspires everyone uniquely. However, the sparsely filled venue only housed a handful of fanatics, and most of the crowd ended up unsuspectingly dumbstruck and disconnected.
In its essence, a concert is about the relationship formed between the band and the audience; you play off one another's energy, and you get lost in each other's presence. That is the magic behind the whole rock experience, and that is the formula for an all-consuming, out-of-body musical adventure. Even the slightest hiccup can hinder that relationship, but audiences are typically quite forgiving. When the egocentric Liam spends the full 20-song set glaring, pacing and chugging (water), you can't help but scratch your head and wonder just exactly why the group continues to tour. Do they even want to?
Noel was much more convincing than his brother, and his voice sounded powerful and intact as he stepped up to sing the mildly underrated "The Masterplan" and "Songbird" before diving into the grossly popular "Slide Away" and "Morning Glory." It was not until the end of the set that the audience seemed to forgive the antics of Oasis, either due to the foreseeable conclusion of the show or because they played the ever-pleasing "Wonderwall." The encore purveyed this emotion, and the crowd was offered "Don't Look Back in Anger," "Falling Down," "Champagne Supernova" and perhaps the most impressive song of the night, a high-energy psychedelic cover of "I Am the Walrus."
Despite the mixed reception and their lackluster presence, the evening was a quintessential Oasis experience, where even after two decades of solid rock, the band continues to stir things up, do things their own way and never once turn back.
Oasis and Ryan Adams are on tour now, dates available here.
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