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Oasis at T in the Park: Furious backstage bust-up and an unforgettable set

Oasis were on top form when they rocked Balado back in July 2002.
Oasis were on top form when they rocked Balado back in July 2002.

A furious backstage row got the Gallagher brothers fired up for an amazing set 20 years ago that was to prove the last by Oasis at T In The Park.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t Liam and Noel at each other’s throats.

Oasis and “miserable moaners” Starsailor fell out spectacularly backstage with Liam being physically restrained by one of his security guards as the spat turned ugly.

The show was Oasis’s first T in the Park since 1994, when they were just breaking through to the big time following the release of Definitely Maybe.

After years of dance music, plastic pop and electronic beats dominating the charts, Liam and Noel made it fashionable to be in a guitar band again.

Then they travelled to the site by regular commuter train after their van was mistakenly filled with petrol instead of diesel, and fans carried their instruments.

T in the Park was a fixture on the music calendar from 1994.

When it all began at Strathclyde Park, just 1,000 campers paid £2 to pitch a tent and if they needed the loo they simply popped into a nearby service station.

It moved to Balado in 1997 where it grew in size and stature, attracting a daily crowd of 52,000 people by the time Oasis arrived to headline the main stage in 2002.

It was a spot they eventually took despite not being named in the line-up at the launch event, where Oasis still managed to be the centre of attention without doing anything!

Liam and Noel played a series of festivals during the summer of 2002.

Promoter Geoff Ellis of DF Concerts said early reports that Oasis were to appear at the festival were “incorrect” at the launch event back in March 2002.

He said the only bands he would talk about were the ones totally confirmed to appear, which included Sunday co-headliners Foo Fighters and the Chemical Brothers.

Joining them at Balado were Gomez and Badly Drawn Boy, Swedish new-wave act The Hives, former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown, The Beta Band, Joe Strummer, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Mull Historical Society, Tricky, Haven and Slam.

Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters were on the bill back in 2002.

Notably absent from that list was a headline act for the Saturday night of the festival, the very slot that Oasis are heavily tipped to fill.

Ellis later elaborated to The Courier that the omission did not mean that brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher and the boys would not be headlining the festival.

“We are not saying that Oasis are not playing the festival, or that they are,” he said.

“What we are doing today is announcing the first group of bands that are confirmed for this year’s T In The Park.”

The crowd at T in the Park in 2002 enjoyed two days of music from some of the world’s best acts.

Was his poker face slipping?

The smart money was on Oasis being there – though, once the contracts were signed!

Oasis would be playing songs from new album Heathen Chemistry, which was the first recorded with guitarist Gem Archer and bassist Andy Bell, who joined the band in 1999.

Archer and Bell’s arrival marked a hugely fraught time for Oasis, after founding members Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs and Paul McGuigan had quit the band.

Battle lines were drawn with Starsailor

This time Oasis arrived at T in the Park via helicopter.

Noel spoke backstage about how much the band were looking forward to playing the festival for the first time since 1994.

He said the band were on fire and predicted the gig would be monumental.

Did Oasis agreeing to headline include an agreement on some of the line-up, though?

The crowd were treated to a legendary performance by Oasis at T in the Park in 2002.

Noel insisted Starsailor wouldn’t be playing if that was true but admitted getting Proud Mary on the bill, who were the first signing to his Sour Mash record label.

Starsailor were the band Liam described as “miserable moaners” in March, while Noel had been less than complimentary about the band’s lead singer, James Walsh, calling him a “c**k”.

It was hardly Blur versus Oasis but it was arguably UK rock’s best feud at that time.

So what happened next at T in the Park in 2002?

Walsh claimed Oasis rounded on his group out of jealousy when their debut album, Love Is Here, saw them being hailed as the best new British band of last year.

James Walsh of Starsailor performing at T in the Park.

He broke it down further.

“I went up to Noel and brought up that he had a go at us in the press and asked for an explanation.

“He wasn’t forthcoming and walked away (reports claimed Noel said: “I don’t know what you’re talking about – but you must be a c**k then”).

“Liam came over later in the day and read me my rights. He told me: ‘Don’t even go near my big brother ever again’, which was childish.”

Liam squared up to Walsh before being physically restrained by one of his security guards as the spat threatened to escalate.

Walsh added: “It all just got a bit out of hand.

“We’re a band who were inspired by them. It tarnishes the spirit of it.”

New songs and classics from Oasis at T in the Park

A visibly angry Liam took the aggression on stage as the band made a triumphant return to T in the Park with a packed set of hits from their four studio albums.

Wearing an army camouflage jacket and clutching a tambourine, he kicked off the set with Hello from 1995’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?.

The frontman was in brilliant form as he sneered his way through the opening tracks, which included The Hindu Times, Hung In A Bad Place and Go Let It Out.

Indeed, songs from the new album featured heavily in the 18-song set and bedded in nicely among the more established favourites.

The set highlights included Columbia, Acquiesce, Cigarettes and Alcohol, Live Forever and Stop Crying Your Heart Out, which was anthemic.

It was strange not to hear the more established crowd pleasers like Rock ‘n’ Roll Star or Champagne Supernova but testament to the strength of the new material.

The often loud-mouthed Liam barely said a word during the 90-minute performance, which proved a high-decibel offensive on the ear drums.

An encore followed and Noel performed Force of Nature and Don’t Look Back In Anger where 52,000 people took over vocal duties for the chorus.

Oasis finished with Some Might Say and a cover of The Who’s My Generation and the stunning performance confirmed their status as the best live act around.

The group eventually split in 2009.

Noel quit following a bust-up with Liam in France.

T in the Park ran for 23 years before organisers called it a day in 2016, after being forced to move from their Balado site in 2015.

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