It’s likely, halfway through 1994 as one continued the incessant touring trail after finally completing work on his band’s debut album, and the other came to an agreement which would see him adopt the mantle of leader of the Labour Party, that Noel Gallagher and Tony Blair had never even heard of each other.
However, just three short years later the pair would meet inside 10 Downing Street with a handshake and a glass of champagne for an image which now – in all its superficiality – suitably defines an era. By then Noel Gallagher was rich, successful and exhalted. Tony Blair, equally, had just been carried to power in the UK on a landslide, himself now carrying the hopes of a nation blossoming with colour after a generation of grey Tory decline. Or so went the narrative anyway.
Their meeting was the appropriately bizarre hedonistic tipping point of Britpop – that intangible, loosely defined media invention with which Oasis are now so intrinsically tied. Britart and Cool Britannia had themselves been gobbled up by the tabloids in its wake. “Revolution!” they cried. “London swings again!” Yet now, like the Sex Pistols did a decade on from the Summer Of Love, we must surely look back through gritted teeth knowing that, just like Johnny Rotten in 1977, for the majority it was essentially ‘Bollocks’.
Even before that Blair/Gallagher summit was held most of the main protagonists had already come to realise as much. The tabloid press – Dr. Frankenstein to Britpop’s monster – decided enough was enough. Blur were about to re-emerge from their ridiculous Benny Hill cartoon ‘Country House‘ selves with bags under their eyes, a moody camera filter and a far darker story to tell on ‘Beetlebum‘. The gloomy Wigan stroll of Richard Ashcroft and The Verve‘s ‘Bittersweet Symphony‘ would be the diametric anthem for 1997′s summer, ‘Urban Hymns‘ the instant post-Britpop bible. Oasis’ timing was less savvy; the insane riot of ‘Be Here Now‘ arrived right in the eye of a backlash storm, soundtracking a mindset which had already pulled out of the station. It would be another year before Noel Gallagher finally boarded up Supernova Heights and went cold turkey on Billy Connolly videos.
All of which, incredibly twenty years on, makes ‘Definitely Maybe‘ retrospectively more important than ever – and why this article chooses to get those Britpop footnotes out of the way at the earliest opportunity.
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