Oasis at Knebworth: the story behind their biggest ever gigs
3 June 2022, 12:00
In 1996, The Biggest Band In The World played their Biggest Ever Gigs. Were you there? What can you remember? Radio X looks back at those heady days.
Liam Gallagher takes to the stage at Knebworth this weekend, reliving one of the finest moments of Britpop - when Oasis played two massive nights at the park in August 1996.
Here are the facts. Riding high after the success of their second album, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, Oasis announced that they were to play two nights at Knebworth House, Hertfordshire on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 August 1996.
When Did The Tickets Go On Sale?
Tickets went on sale at 9am on Saturday 11 May 1996 - the same day Manchester United beat Liverpool 1-0 in the FA Cup Final. 2.6 million people applied for tickets - which is reportedly 5% of the British population at the time. The band could have sold out the venue for two weeks solid.
How Much Were The Tickets?
Tickets were priced at a hefty (for those days) £22.50, but were soon changing hands for “15 times” their face value on the day, according to reports.
How Big Was The Knebworth Crowd?
Bands like Queen and Led Zeppelin had performed to huge crowds at Knebworth in the 70s and 80s… but Oasis held the record for the biggest crowd to that date. Oasis played to 125,000 people a night: that’s a quarter of a million people in total. Their Knebworth record was held until 2003 when Robbie Williams played THREE nights at the same venue!
How Big Was The Guest List?
The backstage guest list had over 7,000 people on it! Some of the faces backstage were were Kate Moss, Jarvis Cocker and, er, Martine McCutcheon and Mick Hucknall.
Who Else Was On The Bill For Saturday At Knebworth?
Doors opened at 2.15pm and support acts on Saturday 10 August were The Prodigy, Manic Street Preachers, Ocean Colour Scene, The Chemical Brothers and The Bootleg Beatles.
Who Else Was On The Bill For Sunday At Knebworth?
Meanwhile, the support acts on the Sunday were The Charlatans, Manic Street Preachers, Kula Shaker, Cast and Dreadzone. The Charlatans had lost their keyboard player Rob Collins in a car accident three weeks earlier - Martin Duffy from Primal Scream stood in.
Which Songs Did Oasis Play At Knebworth?
Coming on stage to an intro of The Swamp Song, Noel Gallagher announced: “We’re all making history tonight.” Both shows opened with Columbia, followed by Acquiesce and Supersonic. The setlist was the same for both nights:
Oasis at Knebworth House Setlists - 10 and 11 August 1996
- Intro tape: The Swamp Song
- Some Might Say
- Roll With It
- Slide Away
- Morning Glory
- Round Are Way
- Cigarettes And Alcohol
- Cast No Shadow
- The Masterplan
- Don’t Look Back In Anger
- My Big Mouth
- It’s Gettin’ Better (Man!!)
- Live Forever
- Champagne Supernova
I Am The Walrus
Did Oasis Play Any New Songs At Knebworth?
Oasis played two new unrecorded songs: It’s Gettin' Better (Man!!) and My Big Mouth… both of which were later released on Be Here Now…
Were There Any Special Guests?
John Squire of The Stone Roses came on for the encore and guested on Champagne Supernova.
What Did Liam And Noel Think Of The Knebworth Shows?
Noel Gallagher said the years after Knebworth were like a “comedown” - “I really suffered,” he admitted to the NME ten years later. “It's like, what do you do when you've done everything? I suppose it's like getting a massive, massive pay rise and buying everything you want. What do you do after that? You kind of sink into boredom. Kind of directionless.” Liam was also later asked by the NME what he remembered of the shows. He replied: “Not a lot, really. Nothing.”
Bonus fact: Do you remember Radio Supernova?
Radio X’s John Kennedy was part of a team - along with Gary Crowley and Keith Cameron that presented “Radio Supernova” between 11am on the Friday and 2am on the Sunday morning for people travelling to Knebworth. 106.6 FM was its frequency and was a very early incarnation of XFM, the predecessor to Radio X. Good times.