Sibling rivalry was in full effect at Akron's E.J. Thomas Hall, but brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher and their band Oasis still managed to provide the enthused crowd with enough slicing guitar riffs and congenial melodies to make for a good show. Sure, there was plenty of English attitude and bad boy posturing, mostly compliments of singer Liam Gallagher, but singer-guitarist Noel showed he's no slouch as he took over vocal duties on close to half a dozen tracks. Oddly, Liam was nowhere to be found on stage when Noel had the spotlight. While there wasn't overt tension onstage, Liam's disappearance seemed telling concerning their relationship. However, unlike in the past, no punches were thrown, and the show went on without disruption.
Since their arrival on the scene more than five years ago, Oasis has admittedly been known as the most successful Beatles rip-off group, blatantly taking Fab Four pop harmonies and crafting them into their own. But their latest effort, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, shows maturation and proves that the true appeal of this band is its guitar work and catchy lyrics. The same could be said about its live show. Highlights from the night include the abrasive "Shakermaker," the mid-tempo bluesy "Stand by Me," and the urgent "Gas Panic," with its fuzzed-out guitars and surreal effects. Again, the songs that stood out were led by Noel, including "Where Did It All Go Wrong," which may have been the pinnacle of the evening. This powerful track featured a sizzling guitar sound and a complementary grinding organ that powered Noel's smooth, succinct vocal delivery. Because it was so raunchy, "Cigarettes and Alcohol" was another highlight. While Liam's contemptible temperament warranted a smack in the head, the barrage of guitars proved momentous. A brief but potent jam of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" showed this English band has plenty of jam rock capability. A predictable and non-eventful Beatles cover in the encore was preceded by a more memorable take of Neil Young's "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)." With Noel singing his heart out, the lyrics "There's more to the picture than meets the eye" were poignant, especially since Liam was nowhere to be found.
With a tapestry of Radiohead-inspired sounds and heavenly falsettos, Travis, England's biggest export, opened the night with a potent set of earnest tunes. Yeah, its style has an antecedent in Jeff Buckley and Thomas Yorke, but the individuality and talent came through loud and clear. A chance to see Travis at the intimate Grog Shop next month may be too good of an opportunity to pass up.