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Reviewed by Michael Fortes
“I’m tired and I’m sick!” sings Noel Gallagher in the opening line of the title song on Oasis’ latest DVD, Lord Don’t Slow Me Down. I hear ya Noel, I hear ya. I see ya too, yawning frequently throughout this black and white, 90-minute documentary. Your plea might have come a bit too late, else it fell on deaf ears!
Baillie Walsh’s documentary pretty much tells it like it is: Oasis are a bunch of regular guys, no longer the rowdy rock n’rollers of a decade ago. There aren’t any fights to be witnessed here. In fact, there’s little interaction between the famously bickersome brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher at all. They throw verbal barbs at each other during press interviews, sure, but it’s clear that part of the reason they keep up that front is because the press keeps asking for it. So there, give the people what they want. And then behind the scenes, we can snicker over which brother has the shits and which brother is too lazy to learn more songs to make a more rounded set list.
While all of this makes for an honest film, which is ultimately what the band would want and hopefully what we want too, I can’t say it makes for the most exciting or engaging rock doc. For one, it’s not narrated, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in this case it makes the film feel like not much more than a series of expertly shot and edited home videos. The story that emerges isn’t clearly defined, other than “this is Oasis circa 2005-06, playing in this corner of the world and that, doing lots of interviews, getting tired, and doing it all over again for millions of adoring fans.” Secondly, it was somewhat surprising (though not entirely) that perhaps the most famous and successful heirs to the Beatles have Zak Starkey, son of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, playing with them and not once is the spotlight ever thrown on this fascinating twist of fate. Granted, Zak is not a full-fledged member of the band (pity his predicament that he had to work less with the Who so he could fulfill his commitments to Oasis! Talk about the benefits of nepotism!), but still, he was there, drumming with the guys who have made a whole career out of mining his dad’s old band’s catalog for inspiration and song ideas.
Tellingly, during the bonus Q&A session on disc one, Noel expressed his own reservations about the state of the band in regards to the idea for this project. Yes, the fact that the lads in Oasis had indeed grown up and slowed down didn’t strike Noel as the kind of situation that would lend itself to a great rock n’ roll documentary. Though who could disagree with the business sense of putting this thing out? After all, the band is arguably at their commercial peak now (though you’d never know it in America). The tour in support of 2005’s Don’t Believe The Truth played before a total of roughly 2 million paying fans, and the homecoming gig at the City of Manchester Stadium documented on disc two of this set shows that the fans are still wildly enthusiastic. All this in spite of the fact that Liam can’t really sing the band’s old songs all that well anymore. His voice sounds totally blown out on old chestnuts like “Champagne Supernova” and “Cigarettes and Alcohol,” though he fares much better on more recent material like “Lyla” and “Songbird.” Noel, however, sounds exactly the same after all these years, and it’s a pity he doesn’t sing more.
Towards the end of the documentary, Noel alludes to the idea of Oasis’ touring days being numbered. Having kids and getting tired of the constant rigors of touring can surely make a rock star want to kick back and enjoy the fruits of his labors. Now, as with any rock band of their stature, one has to take such a declaration with a grain of salt. But if Oasis does stay off the road for a prolonged number of years, at least we can’t say we weren’t warned.