Supersonic is the 2016 documentary film about British rock band Oasis, which was made with some involvement from Asif Kapadia, the guy responsible for the incredible Amy Winehouse documentary Amy (which by the by, I reviewed last January here). Because I loved the film Amy and the fact that for a good decade of my life I was a huuuuge Oasis fan (not so much nowadays), I couldn’t wait to watch this.
And nostalgia alone was enough to get me hugely excited as Supersonic began. I’m not really a fan of the band anymore and I’m the first to admit / accuse of them of making some shit albums before they AT LAST broke up for good, after years of ‘kind of’ breaking up, cancelling concerts, petty arguments and bad music.
But at their peak and during those couple of years in the mid-90s when they released their first two albums – ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ Oasis were the absolute dogs bollocks and they were at that time, the best band in the country. Blur fans may disagree but for a time Oasis did rule the roost.
And that’s one of the main things you get from the documentary – the fact that musically, Oasis weren’t anything hugely special (they were just lads from a council estate who clearly liked The Stone Roses). But they – the band and especially Liam and Noel Gallagher (the two brothers who founded Oasis) – just had something, a raw and exciting quality, something really special that seemed to be rock and roll personified. And that’s what Supersonic shows us – how Oasis were a band from a Manchester council estate who (somehow) made the best rock and roll tunes of the decade.
The only real portrait painted is that of the brothers – Liam and Noel. A little about their background and a lot about their close, yet tumultuous relationship which has always been a subject in the press. Noel was the ‘talented one’, the quieter, older brother who spent his teenage years playing the guitar in his bedroom and writing songs. Ultimately Noel was the backbone of the band, but it’s true that without Liam – his arrogance, tambourine and bad boy good looks – Oasis wouldn’t have been the same great band they were.
I felt Supersonic missed some of the detail and intimacy that some documentaries offer, but in fairness I already knew about the Gallagher relationship so some of that background was less of a revelation, though still interesting. And there’s some brilliant footage (until now unseen) – both musical and just the band larking about as young blokes which I enjoyed. The documentary was made in the same way as Amy, using archive footage with narrative voice overs – mainly the Gallagher brothers though various family and band members speak as well. The brothers talk about being young, doing gigs, taking drugs (so many drugs), music of course and fighting…of course. Along with the video clips which include live footage of Oasis performing, the overall effect is pretty good.
And so true to the band itself, Supersonic is about as rock and roll as a documentary can get. It only focuses on a few years of Oasis’ fame and ends on their biggest gig – Knebworth 1996 (where they played to 250,000 people). Though there’s really another fifteen years of sketchy albums and diva tantrums, I do get why the makers did it like that. Supersonic isn’t supposed to be an intimate portrait, there’s no inside goss about their marriages or ‘childhood friends’ talking about what they were like in school. It just shows the shear magnitude of fame that Oasis had at one point, and how they quite literally ruled the Britpop and indie music scene. Supersonic just wanted to remind us how great Oasis once were and it was nice to be reminded.
Whilst it probably did go on a little too long (at just over two hours, I was ready when it ended) I did enjoy Supersonic immensely. As well as being a great trip down nostalgia lane it was just super nice (see what I did there) to remember how exiting Oasis once were and how fucking good they used to be. They made some weird decisions later in the day, they poor albums and seemed to change for the worst. But Supersonic is a mark of respect to their heyday, when they truly were the best band in the world.