Audience members will be on the lookout for friction between Oasis vocalist Liam Gallagher and older brother Noel.
Audience members will be on the lookout for friction between Oasis vocalist Liam Gallagher and older brother Noel. (By Chris Pizzello -- Associated Press)
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sure, there's the music -- Oasis has recorded some of Britain's most popular rock hits of the modern era -- but any concert by this notoriously volatile band adds the extra excitement of what might happen onstage (or off) when the brawling Gallagher brothers get together.

In a career that has included multiple break-ups, revolving-door personnel changes, fistfights and show cancellations, Oasis has left a trail of lost teeth and disgruntled former bandmates behind, while creating a catalog of hits -- "Wonderwall," "Don't Look Back in Anger" and "Champagne Supernova" among them -- that's made them musical gods in their native land and cult favorites here.

The band was formed in Manchester in 1991 by vocalist Liam Gallagher and a few mates, joined shortly thereafter by Liam's older brother Noel (guitar and vocals). Noel quickly became the group's primary songwriter and a perpetual target for Liam's most outrageous comments.

Even as the band achieved huge commercial and critical success for its debut disc "Definitely Maybe" (1994) and follow-up "(What's the Story) Morning Glory?" (1995), the brothers became British tabloid staples, featured for their sibling rivalry, ongoing battles with fellow Britpop stars Blur and rowdy club escapades. The bad-boy image gave the band loads of street cred at home, but U.S. audiences kept a safer distance. (That the band has never equaled its U.K. success here adds a layer of delightful friction to any show in Virginia.)

The Gallagher brothers remain the band's only continual members, riding the ups and downs of a visible career. Oasis has sold more than 50 million records worldwide, with eight U.K. No. 1 singles and dozens of British and European music awards. At the height of the band's fame in the late '90s, its third album, "Be Here Now," became the fastest-selling album in British chart history. But it also began a period of difficulty for the band, which suffered a decline in popularity with the releases "Standing on the Shoulder of Giants" (2000) and "Heathen Chemistry" (2002) before rebounding with 2005's "Don't Believe the Truth" and this year's "Dig Out Your Soul."

With "Don't Believe the Truth," a new line-up embarked on a world tour in May 2005, visiting 26 countries in 110 headlining shows. Perhaps more importantly, the tour went off without any major incidents, and the group reestablished its legacy. Earlier this year, a leading British music magazine and retailer co-sponsored a poll to find the 50 greatest British albums of the past 50 years.

Oasis albums scored first and second -- "Definitely Maybe" and "(What's the Story) Morning Glory?," respectively -- and others came in at numbers 14 ("Don't Believe the Truth") and 22 ("Be Here Now").

Although that should keep the Gallaghers happy, the presence of Ryan Adams on this bill could help, too.

The prolific singer-songwriter from North Carolina is also known as a bit of a wild card. Adams dropped out of school at 16 and performed with several bands before forming the alt-country band Whiskeytown in Raleigh. The band was a critical success with a small commercial following, but over three albums and five years of work, various members quit, saying that Adams was difficult.

By the time of Whiskeytown's final album, "Pneumonia," Caitlin Cary was the only other founding member remaining.

Adams went solo in 2000 to release "Heartbreaker" and "Gold" a year later. The latter achieved renown not just for fine music but for the song "New York, New York." The song's music video was shot just days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and prominently featured the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the background as Adams, a longtime New York resident, sings, "I'll always love you, though, New York." The more rock-leaning style of "Gold" led it to sell more than 350,000 copies (Adams' best-seller to date) and earned two Grammy Award nominations -- "Best Male Rock Vocal" for "New York, New York" and "Best Rock Album."

Adams has since released numerous solo albums and EPs and three albums with his band, the Cardinals, the most recent being "Cardinology," which came out in October. He has produced albums for Jesse Malin and Willie Nelson and worked with other artists, including Toots and the Maytals, Beth Orton, the Wallflowers, Minnie Driver, Counting Crows and Cowboy Junkies.

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