Concert Reviews: Metallica vs. Oasis

In 18 days of life lived to the fullest I have seen Oasis live at Staples Center, A Charlie Brown Christmas at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, and Metallica last night at the Forum in Los Angeles. Here's how the shows break down:
(Note: I paid for both tickets, so enough with the cheap jokes, but that's another post)

Oasis, December 4th, 2008, My second Oasis show:
As much as I appreciate the diversity brought forth by the newest studio output, "Dig Out Your Soul", I will always credit Oasis with their ability to play the hits night in, night out, and the fans appreciate it to. The fanbase is largely young, and I was sometimes dissapointed by seeing people sit down during classics like "Supersonic", or "Slide Away", as playing the latter is a special treat for classic fans. Lead vocalist Liam Gallagher sounds like his voice is sliding away a bit, but Noel's crisp McCartney-esque vocal stance still fills out Shure microphones and arena speakers as smoothly as ever produced by the British wave of the 1990's. When not on stage (Liam's presence seemed about 50% of the show), Noel leads the audience to a bit of an acoustic strewed mirage of "Masterplan", "Don't Look Back in Anger", and "The Importance of Being Idle" All of which were sung with heart and clearly landed some of the biggest applause and bursts fan-singing of the night.

When the younger lad walked on stage, the enthusiasm was definitely present, something that isn't exactly a given, and a powerful, yet stirring rendition of "I'm Outta Time", left me wondering why there haven't been more hits from Liam's collection through the years, the soft ballad still rings in my ears two weeks after hearing. In typical Oasis style, very little banter engaged fans, other than song introductions. This may be a favor due to lack of live subtitles, but I do enjoy when my favorite rockers take the moment to thank you for being there, instead of Liam's closing "Go buy a T-shirt on your way out". Not exactly warm like a wool coat to send you on your Los Angeles way.
An Unexpected shine was seen from guitarist Gem Archer, whose solos were so spot on with bends and slides that I had to stop and appreciate the musicianship that Gem has developed through his long career. I have a lot of respect for his ability to play minimal notes and stretch them to monumental lengths. Bassist Andy Bell and a very capable new drummer kept the rhythm of the night very well, and a citar appearance for "To Be Where There's Life", may have been the best performance of tne evening.

Bitter Taste:
Oasis - To not play (and I know that true fans won't criticize what was not played, but I must for this instance) "Live Forever", arguable the most important Oasis song, as noted in the recent book, "The Pitchfork 500", was a dissapointment to keep it light. Still, renditions of "The Masterplan", and "The Shock of the Lightning" certainly deserve a spot in the set-list, and not everything can be played.

Overall: Oasis live at Staples Center
Grade: B
Oasis is best heard in stadium outdoor gigs and ampitheaters, and the ego of the two Gallagher brothers is such a chip on the musical shoulder that I am beginning to feel that we looked like 17,000 walking wallets, and I didn't feel loved frankly. The music is well-performed, and every single person sung outloud to the ultra-bohemuth of the acoustic guitarist, "Wonderwall", but I can't help feeling that they know they're great, which really kills a lot of the heart that their ROck and Roll Spirit placed in me half-a-dozen years before today. Look... Oasis is one of the best bands in the world. Top 10, I refuse to even think its debatable, but they could be in the top three if they showed half the spirit of Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, the vocal care of Gin Blossoms' Robin Wilson, or the fan appreciation of James Hetfield...but we'll get to that. When you see a great band, it should be a great show. I left smiling, but I also left feeling that I had seen all there was to see, and that was abit disheartening.

Metallica, live at the Forum, December 17th, 2008
My first show, and my first metal show. This is important when considering expectations. Going in I admit to being a medium to light level fan, knowing the hits, and only a handful of songs beyond. After being clusterf-ed out of $22 for parking (20 at Staples was bad enough considering how long it took to find a space), and pushing my way through a crowd of stand-ins for West Coast Chopper employees, kidding, but really though... come on, we made our way to our seats and settled in for the extensice show of 2 hours and 10 minutes from the headliners, celebrating 25 years of music. When the coffins lowered from the grid and my eyes met a laser show fit for a planetarium without Pluto, the drop D and E5 power chords began to filter through the conscious of the crowd. Hetfield's vocals have been preserved to carefully craft all the neccessary stretches and pitches that fans have clawed at and pumped their firsts for for decades. The guitar workings of Kirk Hammett's wailing and virtuosic tendencies rocked the crowd all night without much reprieve through the night. The shine of the bright lights, pyro explosions, and sync action lasers off of LArs Ulrich's balding head brought me into the Metallica family, and it was actually a wuite friendly place to be. Hetfield's croud interaction was warm and well-recieved. Through an expedition of the new album the band didn't neglect the hits and played a particularly rousing dozen minutes of "Nothing Else MAtters", followed by "Enter Sandman", which could compare to any two song display I have ever witnessed live.

Bitter taste: Metallica
Can we put the pot out for a few minutes? Its amazing to me the lack of consideration for fellow audience members. Of coarse you got to a hard rock show to blow off some steam from life, maybe evena little smoke, but can we refrain from blowing the smoke into the face of a 9 year old boy with his father? Is that metal? In regards to show show, time signature changes came off a tad rough and sometimes slow, which I imagine is a task amd emore difficult by the "in the round" format of audio stacks around the stage, so I can give that a pass, as the very technical and carefully crafted hits can not always be expected to fall within their hundredth of a second placement as done carefully by ADR in recent studio albums.

Grade: 85.8% (a true fan might say A-)
This show rocked hard all night, as did the collisions in the aprking lot post show, what a mess!
Head to head comparison:
While lead egos Noel and Liam would probably give two rubbish thumbs down to the ultra-paced strumming and ripping solos of Metallica, it is clear that the latter still cares to put their best foot and fist forward at each show they play. Oasis seems content to collect their cash on a drive of "yeah that sounds pretty good" sound, and walk off the stage in the same mental state they came on with.
Still, comparing alternative and metal is a bit like choosing London broil or ground beef - a matter of taste. Clearly the working class or industrial man is probably found in car with "Master of Puppets" as opposed to "The Masterplan". When it comes to live concerts, the passion lies with Metallica, as does the test of over a decade more than the British rock veterans. This holiday season, just be glad that two great bands are still making it happen in a big way, and enjoy the celebration. Thank you and goodnight podcasters!

Brand new episode coming Wednesday, season one season finale!

Enjoy the sleeper single "Jackson Valley", below, and Happy Holidays! Drive safe! Stay off of the snow pits on the grapevine.

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