Oasis - Champagne Supernova (live at Knebworth)
125,000 people in a field in the south of England. A quarter of a million over the course of two days. Special guest support acts like The Prodigy, The Manic Street Preachers, The Charlatans, Kula Shaker, Cast, The Bootleg Beatles (wait, weren’t they headlining? Haha). Those two days in August: quite possibly the peak of the Britpop era, after which it could only go downhill, the movement eating itself up as over-zealous record companies scrambled to sign and release material by every two-bit hanger-on with two guitarists and an almost-competent drummer (Remember Northern Uproar? Rialto? The Supernaturals? No? Don’t worry, you’re not alone).
It might be hard for someone outside Britain to understand how incredibly huge Oasis were at the time. They were on the covers of the tabloid newspapers on practically a daily basis. They were on the covers of the music newspapers every week. Noel and Liam were subjected to the sort of media coverage that is now only reserved for, well, everyone with a vague level of fame. But at the time the only comparable act in terms of column space was the Spice Girls.
And there I was. Sixteen years old and standing in that field in the south of England on a sweltering August day, having got up at six to catch the coach hired by my local record store. Surrepticious cans of Stella in the back seats, despite warnings from the driver that drinking was forbidden. Traffic jams everywhere south of Birmingham, as what seemed like the whole country converged on a small town in Herfordshire.
My first ever gig (it should have been the second, but Green Day cancelled their Manchester concert earlier in the year, much to the despair of my friends and I). A baptism of fire, practically a music festival. Looking now at the overhead photographs, my friends and I were closer to the stage than 75% of the people, but we didn’t know at the time. It felt like we were miles away, but stretching up and looking back, we just saw heads. Nothing but heads.
That, for me, is 1996.