What’s Going On: Oasis Knebworth 1996

Having conquered the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with 1994’s Definitely Maybe and 1995’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, Oasis were on top of the world. The bickering and boisterous brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher were thrust into the spotlight as tabloid fixtures and found themselves the poster children of not just the ‘90s Britpop movement but of the larger Cool Britannia period that saw Britain embracing its status as the epicenter of everything that was hot and happening in broader pop culture. In the concert documentary Oasis Knebworth 1996, director Jake Scott captures the band at the peak of their powers and facing their biggest challenge yet: headlining the Knebworth Festival.

On August 11th and 12th of 1996, 250,000 festival-goers touched down on Knebworth Park over two nights to see Oasis perform what would become record-breaking and legendary shows. There was so much demand to see Oasis that over 2.5 million people attempted to get tickets, which was then just over 2% of the UK population, resulting in a single-day sellout. Having acts The Chemical Brothers, Ocean Colour Scene, The Prodigy and Manic Street Preachers among the acts supporting Oasis just solidified that Knebworth was the place to be. The setlist reads like an Oasis greatest hits collection. “Champagne Supernova”, “Live Forever”, “Wonderwall”, “Don’t Look Back In Anger”—Oasis played all the hits that the rabid fans in attendance wanted to hear, creating a magnetic atmosphere that the documentary expertly captures.

What makes Oasis Knebworth 1996 a particularly great watch is that the story is largely told through the eyes of the fans that were there in attendance. You hear them recounting their stories of trying to get tickets, how they felt at different moments throughout the shows and how they feel about their Knebworth experience now.  It also should be pointed out that the momentum wouldn’t last and the air was about to be let out of the Oasis balloon in fairly short order, which also lends to the documentary being a fascinating time capsule. Despite being a commercial success and initially critically praised, their 1997 album Be Here Now spelled the end of the band’s brief imperial phase thanks to increased in-fighting and a swift critical backlash. Thanks to the brilliant concert scenes and previously never-before-seen footage, viewers will be transported back to a brief moment in time when Oasis were at the height of their success and truly larger than life.

You can purchase Oasis Knebworth 1996 here.

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