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Concert Reviews:
It's Only Rock 'n' Roll -- But Oasis Fans Liked It

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, December 14, 2008

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AUBURN HILLS -- As Oasis' first song wound down on Saturday night (Dec. 13), singer Liam Gallagher reminded us that "it's just rock 'n' roll."

But the crowd at the Palace liked it.

Though it played beneath a snazzy, state-of-the-art light rig and in front of four video panels, Oasis's hour-and-45-minute concert had the flavor of an old school rock show that was timeless enough to be dropped in any of the last 40 years. There was no choreography, no pyrotechnics, no heady concepts -- not even much movement from the band members. It was simply about a band that plugged in its instruments (no cordless set-ups, either) and played its songs really, really loud.

Fortunately after 14 years and seven albums, that's enough for Oasis. The British quartet, abetted by new drummer Chris Sharrock and keyboardist Jay Darlington, dug into its latest album, "Dig Out Your Soul," for a half-dozen of what chief songwriter and guitarist Noel Gallagher calls "modern psychedelic blues" songs -- and not just those by him but also a pair of younger brother Liam's contributions ("I'm Outta Time," "Ain't Got Nothin' ") and increasingly featured guitarist Gem Archer's trippy "To Be Where There's Life."

There were plenty of big hits, with the crowd of 6,200 singing along to the likes of "Rock 'n' Roll Star," "Cigarettes and Alcohol," "Morning Glory," "Wonderwall" and "Champagne Supernova," plus lesser-celebrated tracks such as "The Meaning of Soul," "Songbird" and "Slide Away" and the widely known B-side "The Masterplan." And the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus," another B-side in the Oasis catalog and Saturday's final encore, nodded to the nuanced musical sensibility at the core of the group's sound.

Some cheeky comments aside, the famously temperamental Gallagher brothers nearly had a Moment on Saturday, too. Liam clearly took exception to a shoe being thrown onstage from the audience during "Supersonic," staring at it periodically throughout the song. Returning for the encore, Noel playfully urged the tosser to "own up" to the deed -- "Unless," the guitarist said, "it's one of our crew. Then it would be disturbing." He then dedicated "Look Back in Anger" to anyone with both shoes."

Following a modest but charming opening set by California singer-songwriter Matt Costa, Ryan Adams & the Cardinals also laced their hour-long performance with bits of humor, including raps about Journey singer Steve Perry and a Cinderella concert that guitarist Neal Casal apparently attended at the Palace in 1989. Adams, meanwhile, continued to step back into the band, still a first among equals but positioning himself toward the side and away from the front of the stage while the other Cardinals -- and particularly Casal -- shared the spotlight in a set that drew generously from Adams' Cardinals repertoire, including the group's new "Cardinology" album and last year's "Easy Tiger." A long, jammy rendition of "Off Broadway" was an ensemble highlight, while the other 13 songs showcased a hard-rocking take on Americana, with weepy pedal steel and crunchy electric guitars mixing on songs such as "Let it Ride," "Go Easy," "Sink Ships," "Natural Ghost" and "Magick."

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