Oasis, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Matt Costa
Monday, Dec. 8
Broomfield Event Center
Better than: Seeing a band that's past its prime play in a high school auditorium.
Circa 1997, an Oasis concert would have filled a venue the size of the Pepsi Center, with its official capacity estimated between 18,000 and 19,000 people. Take a conceptual step further. The fact that the band could have even pulled in a respectable showing at Invesco Field during its heyday made the slim showing at the Broomfield Event Center Monday all the more arresting.
Judging by the rows upon rows of empty seats in the section opposite the stage, the 6,000-seat arena pulled in perhaps two-thirds of its capacity crowd. And while the fans that braved the snow on Highway 36 mustered all their enthusiasm, their fervor couldn't mask the simple fact revealed by the attendance and, unfortunately, the performance.
Oasis is not what they once were.
While the show yielded adequate performances of all the well-worn and well-known radio hits that stirred fans into sing-alongs, the band's performance felt tepid and tired. Combined with poor mixing, unremarkable showings by the two opening bands and the constrictive feel of the venue, Oasis' showing felt like a half-hearted throwback to the heady days of late '90s Brit pop.
In the end, it was a summoning that was far from inspirational. When Huntington Beach native Matt Costa took the stage at 8 p.m., the arena looked as if it were half-full. Even the arena's floor of folding chairs showed large swaths of empty seats.
Costa offered up his minimalistic brand of plaintive folk, with a sole accompanist who backed him up on rhythm guitar and bass. His set drew on a wide range of sounds pulled from traditional American cues -"Witchcraft" relied on a set of riffs on the slide guitar for its drive, while "Ballad of Miss Kate" benefited from a finger-picking pattern straight out of country blues playbooks. While Costa offered some impressive licks and moments of lulling beauty in his soft, insistent voice, his twenty-minute set was, at best, fair. With too many songs that relied on hackneyed lyrics and simplistic rhyme schemes, it seemed Costa has some more work to do as a songwriter.
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Ryan Adams and the Cardinals played a significantly longer set. The quintet's hour-long performance began with a bizarre choice of a theme -- they took to the stage as the strains from Sanford and Son sounded. While the Cardinals came out strong with solid performances of songs like "Cobwebs" and "Crossed Out Name," the band failed to retain its initial energy over the length of the set. Plus, with a selection of songs that suffered from a similar musical structure and sound, keeping the hour interesting proved a challenge.
The limitations imposed by poor mixing had an effect too. Jon Graboff's pedal steel guitar was lost behind Adams' guitar and the rest of the band's thick sound during the majority of the set. It was a loss that subtracted from the band's sound and, sadly, its overall appeal. Still, Adams and his crew kept loyalists in the audience rooting, and as the tardy fans began to trickle in from the worsening storm outside, the long set seemed more like a precursor.
Two hours after Costa started, Oasis kicked off its set. Coming onstage to a recorded drum line that recalled Jimi Hendrix's "Little Miss Lover," the band launched into "Rock 'n' Roll Star" from Definitely Maybe. Buoyed by recorded sound samples, the quintet immediately set the tone of the evening - raucous, defiant and confident.
Unfortunately, the problems that would mark the entire concert appeared pretty early, too. Liam Gallagher's vocals, while insistent and forceful, sounded a bit strained, as if the years of excessive indulgence are catching up with him. Also, the excessive use of samples (synth lines, mostly) seemed an odd touch. Noel Gallagher's vocals, on the other hand, were much stronger and affecting, though his electric guitar solos on the first songs sounded muddied. Similarly, while the band's new drummer, Chris Sharrock, rhythm guitarist Gem Archer and bassist Andy Bell sounded solid, an overblown mix made it hard to hear them at times.
Despite these shortcomings, the performance was not wanting for the Gallaghers' trademark brand of attitude. Liam Gallagher disappeared from the stage for the songs his brother sang, but when he was with the rest of the group and he wasn't singing stridently into the mike, he stood with arms crossed, as if at a photo shoot. It was a stance full of arrogance, an attitude that found spoken form in his dedication of the song "I'm Outta Time" to John Lennon: "He's the most important part of rock and roll since me," he boasted.
It was all part of the stage presence, I suppose, and depending on your attitude about the band; it was a showing that could either be endearing or enervating. Personally, it felt a bit tired and played out. Considering the middling quality of the performance and the sub-par quality of the sound at times, the arrogance seemed a bit misplaced. Sure, the band delivered well-honed versions of their acoustic numbers and their radio anthems like "Wonderwall" and "Champagne Supernova," but the sterling moments had a counterweight in the bad mixes of songs like "Supersonic" and "Cigarettes and Alcohol."
Even the band's finale, a cover of the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus," sounded blown out. It was a poor paean to the classic, and an unfortunate way to end the evening. While the show delivered all of the expected hits and some songs from the newest album, Dig Out Your Soul, the overall effect was, at best, so-so. I'll be interested to see the size of the next venue the band hits in Colorado. I'm thinking the Gothic at best, and the State Fair at worst.
-- A.H. Goldstein
Personal bias: By the end of the night, the radio-friendliness of all three bands was really starting to rankle.
By the way: Both Liam and Noel Gallagher asked the audience about cowboys and Indians. Apparently, they associate Colorado with Westerns.
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Rock 'n' Roll Star
The Shock of Lightning
Cigarettes and Alcohol
The Meaning of Soul
To Be Where There's Life
Waiting for the Rapture
Ain't Got Nothing
The Importance of Being Idle
I'm Outta Time
Don't Look Back in Anger
I Am the Walrus