Last week, an interview clip in which Matty Healy of The 1975 implores Noel and Liam Gallagher to reunite Oasis went viral. “Stop marding!” he exclaims, invoking English slang for “pouting” that Americans might recognize from an Arctic Monkeys deep cut. “Grow up! Headline Glastonbury!” Even those of us who have occasionally found Healy to be a bit much could not deny the undeniable truth of his conclusion: Anyone who attends a solo show by either Gallagher brother in 2023 would rather be at an Oasis gig.
If Healy’s words occurred in a vacuum, they might not register as anything more than a funny soundbite. But in the past month, there have been signs that the seemingly insurmountable divide between Noel and Liam might be narrowing. Indeed, it’s possible that in the not-so-distant future the “marding,” so to speak, might cease so that the rocking (Britpopping?) can resume.
The British press, unsurprisingly, has already been close-reading tweets and interviews from the brothers for any signs of hope. Over the weekend, for instance, Liam tweeted about a successful hip operation — the man is 50 years old, after all — and offhandedly remarked to one of his followers that the “comeback is real,” a phrase that appeared instantly in numerous headlines in a manner that, for now, seems misleading.
Over here on the other side of the Atlantic, I am conducting my own investigation. I admit that I am biased — at the beginning of the year, I predicted that Oasis would get back together and announce a tour in 2023. At the time, this was a Hail Mary based on wishful thinking: Their classic debut album Definitely Maybe turns 30 next year, and surely there is a pile of reunion money the size of the Burj Khalifa just waiting for them to hoover up like the white lines that fueled the making of Be Here Now.
One other thing: From the beginning, Noel has been the most adamant about not working with his brother. He was the one who ended the band in the first place back in 2009 after an argument in Paris in which Liam allegedly threw a plum at Noel’s head. (I probably didn’t need to mention the part about the plum — it just makes me laugh any time I think about it.)
But Noel’s reasoning against getting the band back together (which in the best-case scenario will also include guitarist Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs, because when you have a guy named Bonehead in your band you must invite him back) has grown strained. In October, he said that Oasis is as popular now as they were when they were an active band, which in his mind means there’s “no point” in reuniting. I think I understand what he means — in terms of streaming numbers Oasis never really went away — but the logic is flawed. Their enduring popularity makes a reunion more relevant, not less. At some point that window will close. Now is not that time.
This is not to say that there aren’t good arguments to be had over whether an Oasis reunion should happen. But let’s put them on hold for a minute. First, let’s wildly speculate on the reasons the comeback could happen.
1. Noel is getting divorced
At the risk of sounding crass — the marriage busted up after 12 years, our thoughts are with him at this emotionally difficult time — I must point out that this development suggests that Noel will need a fresh infusion of cash very soon. And touring arenas and stadiums with his musical ex obviously represents a more economically advantageous situation than playing clubs and theaters with his solo band, the High Flying Birds. Noel will likely be reminded of this once again when his latest High Flying Birds album, Council Skies, comes out in June.
There’s also the matter of Noel’s ex supposedly not being a fan of Oasis’ music, as Liam claimed in 2020. Is this true? I have no idea! Marrying the man who wrote music you hate seems bizarre to me. But we are talking about the Gallaghers here, so the threshold for nonsense is much higher than normal.
If I can make a more sentimental case: In the wake of a divorce, there is an opportunity to reflect on other relationships in your life that might be broken or dysfunctional. And after that period of introspection, there can be grace and forgiveness and reconciliation. Put another way: Why not throw a plum at his head and call it even?
2. Noel literally said “never say never” regarding an Oasis reunion last month
News of Noel’s divorce was reported on January 16. The very next day, Noel went on BBC Manchester and said “you should never say never” regarding Oasis getting back together. While he indicated that “it would have to take an extraordinary set of circumstances” for it to happen, he also added, “That’s not to say that those circumstances would never come about.”
Excuse me, Noel, but you have said “never” regarding a reunion for more than a decade. Now you are essentially negotiating terms for your involvement in a public forum. This is a huge turn of events! Might as well start drawing up potential set lists. May I request that you play “Acquiesce” first? It’s a great song, and the double meaning regarding the thematic significance of the tour is clear.
3. Noel allegedly phoned Liam and was “begging for forgiveness”
Even a person like myself who has gone mad with confirmation bias for an Oasis reunion can’t take this Liam tweet about Noel wanting to meet up at face value. But let’s pretend for a moment that it’s not just trolling: Liam tweeted this the very next day after that BBC interview. Now, I’m guessing Liam saw that interview and thought it would be funny to paint a scenario in which his brother calls him with the proverbial hat in hand. Because Liam has been the one before now who has openly pined for an Oasis reunion, and now he finally has a measure of power in their dynamic.
I prefer to believe that Noel and Liam really did sneak off to a pub and shared pints while hashing out their differences. “Sorry about the plum, mate.” “Fookin’ ‘ell, ’bout time you said that.” If these guys could just get drunk together, they might realize that all they have to do is take separate private jets to every show and stand on opposite ends of enormous stadium-rock stages for six months in order to make a cool $100 million each.
Also, guys, if you did get drunk together, any chance you recorded it for “Wibbling Rivalry” Part II?
4. Their mum Peggy just turned 80
Am I stretching here? Or is this secretly the most important factor of all? The beloved matriarch of the Gallagher household, who raised her brood after the boys’ father abandoned the family, celebrated her birthday on January 30. Reportedly, it is her wish for Noel and Liam to patch up their differences. According to the British tabloid The Mirror, a “source” claims that “in recent years there has been distance within the family, especially with Liam and Noel at war. Peggy has told Liam to mend the rift and she is hoping there will be genuine reconciliation.”
That’s right — I’m quoting English scandal rags now. That’s how far I’ve been pushed. Sooner or later, I’ll have to turn in my badge and gun. But until then: You don’t care about money? You can’t tolerate your brother? What about your elderly mother? You can’t disappoint your elderly mother, Noel and Liam! Just pick up a guitar and a tambourine and play “Slide Away” already!
To review: Noel likely will need money. Noel is publicly negotiating his terms. Noel maybe (?) already reached out to Liam. And their 80-year-old mother wants them to reconcile. All of these things suggest a reunion could take place. But should it?
Oasis is a notoriously inconsistent live act. Tickets for a reunion tour will be obscenely expensive. The shows will take place in cavernous spaces that will render the songs as muddy as an Owen Morris production. They might let us down. It could be a train wreck. And that would suck.
Should an Oasis reunion happen? Absolutely.