- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2005

Somebody forgot to tell Liam Gallagher that Oasis isn’t the next Beatles, or the next Duran Duran for that matter.

The combustible lead singer preened his way through Thursday’s concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion as if rock god status was his birthright, not a democratic title that can easily be stripped away by a fickle public.

These Brit poppers threatened world domination during the 1990s, but now the group finds itself scrambling for a second wind after its latest album, “Don’t Believe the Truth” stalled on the domestic charts.

But to the throng basking in Mr. Gallagher’s brittleness, Oasis is still in its morning glory.

And, at times, their devotion seemed justified.

The revolving door band — now featuring guitarist Gem Archer, bassist Andy Bell, drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr’s son) and keyboardist Jay Darlington — evoked echoes of its grand past during its Thursday set.

Mr. Gallagher’s nasal delivery tore through the band’s passel of hits, from “Wonderwall” to “Champagne Supernova,” songs so sublime no amount of prickly behavior could squander them.

And ol’ Liam was up to his old tricks, dropping F-bombs, staring down someone behind the scenes over glitches real or imagined, and fleeing the stage whenever brother Noel grabbed the microphone.

The brothers’ endless acrimony helped propel the band’s pugnacious image, though in concert guitarist/songwriter Noel seems the saner of the two.

The elder Gallagher also is an exceptional musician, his guitar wizardry on full display even though his face remained mostly impassive.

The two rarely acknowledged each other, nor did either interact with fellow bandmates. Why buddy up to someone who could be gone by tour’s end?

The new “Truth” made up the core of the set, and while the album isn’t a return to form, per se, it has its selling points.

The radiant “Lyla” and “Guess God Thinks I’m Abel” reflect the band’s unmistakable knack for wrapping sweet melodies betwixt obtuse lyrics.

“Don’t Look Back in Anger,” the kind of hit any band would kill for, got lost in a wash of fuzzy guitars and lackluster vocals from Noel Gallagher treatment during the encore. Far better was “My Generation,” a rare time tackling a rock classic proved fortuitous.

Besides, Oasis was singing to its generation, fans who forgive their excesses and never minded hanging on the news of every Gallagher dustup.

Opening act Jet displayed enough fidelity to its muscular debut “Get Born” to give the retro-rock scene a glorious jolt. The scruffy quartet, led by the animated Nic Cester, couldn’t match Oasis’ bluster, but now and then you could see the delight in their movements, as if the glee in becoming rock stars continues to catch them off guard.

Mr. Cester’s voice cracked and quivered on cue, and when it came time to bellow “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” that versatility proved vital. The Melbourne band stretched and pulled their big hit out like taffy but it never sagged or drooped.

Jet’s modest set length made overstaying their welcome impossible. No matter, since we’ll be hearing plenty more from this vital foursome soon enough.

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