- Kevin Harley
- 30 September 2016
The Brothers Gallagher are at the heart of this raucously entertaining and insightful doc from Mat Whitecross
After the tabloid peak, the slump into trad-rock drudgery and the not-before-time split, does anything else need saying about Oasis? Disarming most doubts, a resounding 'Yes' is offered by this richly sourced, highly watchable documentary from Mat Whitecross, rock-schooled director of Stone Roses-themed Spike Island and the Ian Dury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.
The decision to bookend the film with Oasis's era-quaking 1996 Knebworth gigs seems odd initially: they still filled stadiums afterwards, but the variously average-to-poor post-1996 Oasis albums tell a more awkward tale. Yet if you ever wondered how their story might have looked had they stopped at Knebworth (songwriter-in-chief Noel Gallagher certainly has), then here's the answer. Bursting with vim, Supersonic sweeps you up in the messy momentum of Oasis's rise from working-class Burnage to stardom, a take-off fuelled and buffeted by the chafing chemistry between show-off singer Liam Gallagher and his big, bossy brother Noel.
That well-documented sibling warfare merits revisiting in fresh voiceover interviews with both Gallaghers (recorded separately), ranging unguardedly from crystal meth's deleterious impact on a US tour, to a cricket bat's impact on equipment during one studio fallout. Other commentators are well-sourced: their mother, bandmates and sundry associates all gamely deliver the goods.
But it's the eye-watering archive material that puts the 'super' in Supersonic. Ranging from wobbly early rehearsals to epic stadium glories, via life-changing first gigs in Glasgow and intimate phone calls with the Gallaghers' estranged dad, the footage brims with dysfunction, drama, druggy hijinks, comedic low-jinks and – as one soundman puts it – 'devilishly belligerent' music. It all rolls inexorably towards Knebworth, which for Noel was the 'last great gathering of the people before the internet', and for Liam just 'fuckin' biblical'. Whether you're Team Liam or Team Noel, Whitecross's film does what good retrospective rock-docs should: makes a seismic moment for rock's history books roar with raucously entertaining life again.
Satellite broadcast with Q&A at selected cinemas on Sun 2 Oct. General release from Fri 7 Oct.