Pray For The Light (Godfather Records GR 349/350)
Copenhagen, Denmark (Falkoner Salon, Nov. 8, 2008)
Track list: Fuckin’ In The Bushes, Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, Lyla, The Shock of the Lightning, Cigarettes and Alcohol, The Meaning of Soul, To Be Where There’s Life, Waiting For The Rapture, The Masterplan, Songbird, Slide Away, Morning Glory, Ain’t Got Nothin’, The Importance of Being Idle, I’m Outta Time, Wonderwall, Supersonic, Don’t Look Back In Anger, Falling Down, Champagne Supernova, I Am The Walrus.
Paris, France (Le Cabararet Sauvage, Nov. 28, 2008)
It’s Good To Be Free, Talk Tonight, Fade Away, Cast No Shadow, Wonderwall, Whatever, Strawberry Fields Forever, Don’t Look Back In Anger, Married With Children.
Considering how rare it is for a band to produce top-quality material after they’ve been at it for 15 years, consider the two CD set from “Oasis Pray For The Light” to be a marvel on a couple of levels.
First, the sound quality is flawless. That’s something many collectors now take for granted, but for many of us, will never cease to be a marvel.
Second, these recordings come from the band’s tour in support of its seventh album “Dig Out Your Soul” — a surprisingly strong effort sort of out of nowhere (personally, my biggest late-career surprise since Pink Floyd’s “Division Bell”).
The title comes from a lyric from one of the surprising songs on that album — “To Be Where’s There’s Life.” Surprising that it’s a very Beatles kind of tune but it was written by Gem (pronounced with a hard G) Archer and not Noel Gallagher. In typical Oasis form, the lyrics are utter nonsense and it doesn’t matter. It’s not what’s said, it’s how it sounds — and it sounds great.
The first CD comes from a concert in Copenhagen and the second includes bonus cuts from Noel and Gem playing a cabaret in Paris. Beautiful in that in gives you different versions of the same songs, and let’s face it, we’re all suckers for Oasis Beatles covers. While ending their concerts with a “I Am The Walrus” is fairly routine, Noel’s version of “Strawberry Fields Forever” is sweet. Well, as sweet as this sneering, swaggering band can be.
That’s not a dig, that’s a compliment. The songs here from DOYS — “The Shock of the Lightning,” “Waiting for the Rapture,” “Falling Down” — are relentless, explosive pieces of guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll that measure up to any of the band’s earlier work. And you can hear it for yourself because the old favorites — “Rock ‘N’ Roll Star,” “Cigarettes and Alcohol,” “Wonderwall,” “Supersonic,” “Champagne Supernova” — are all here. Noel’s playing a more mellow (dare we say Beatlesesue?) version of “Don’t Look Back In Anger” nowadays, but it works quite well. For many musicians, songs are like children, and they grow up.
As Noel sings on a terrific version of “Fade Away,” the dreams we had as children fade away — dream it while you can because we only get what we settle for. So don’t settle for poor quality recordings from over the hill bands. Listen to the best in as high a quality as possible. And play it very loud.