30 years on: Memories and exclusive photos from the 1994 Oasis gig in Bedford

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Liam and Noel Gallagher, Oasis at Bedford Angel 24.3.94. Image: Kev Bailey
Liam and Noel Gallagher, Oasis at Bedford Angel 24.3.94. Image: Kev Bailey

30 years ago, a little-known band from Manchester embarked on their first UK tour, co-headling with the Scottish band, Whiteout. The first venue on the tour was The Angel on Elstow Road, Bedford and the rest, as they say, is history.

The band, Oasis, went on to become one of the biggest acts in the world but the fate of live music venues has not proved so enduring. Of the 15 venues on the band’s debut tour, nine, including The Angel, have now closed or stopped hosting gigs.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the gig, the Bedford Clanger has spoken exclusively to the promoter, a (slightly indifferent) audience member, a pub historian and, thanks to Kev Bailey, can reveal never-before-seen photos from the gig.

Liam and Noel Gallagher, Oasis at Bedford Angel 24.3.94. Image: Kev Bailey
Liam and Noel Gallagher, Oasis at Bedford Angel 24 March 1994. Image: Kev Bailey

The promoter

Neil Primett was the promoter who put on the Whiteout/Oasis gig in 1994 and he has shared his memories of the events and his encounters with the Gallagher brothers over the last 30 years.

“The Thirst Club indie night [at the Angel] had always been on a Saturday selling out most weeks with up-and-coming bands touted by the music press/NME/Steve Lamacq,” he said.

“Oasis had cancelled on us for the January INTO 94 Tips show where I would hope to second guess music press tips with two bands set for success.

“The Saturday prior, Sleeper had sold out the venue but after the Oasis cancellation, we were offered an extra date at the start of the Supersonic tour on a Wednesday.

“Whilst a claim to fame for me to have the first headline show and a kick starter for BritPop, the Oasis Wednesday night gig was half full [and] the shape of the Angel always meant the main band room area would be full.

Noel Gallagher, Oasis at Bedford Angel 24.3.94. Image: Kev Bailey
Noel Gallagher, Oasis at Bedford Angel 24 March 1994. Image: Kev Bailey

“A few days [after the Angel gig] the band appeared on The Word and Supersonic eventually charted and I guess the rest is history.”

The Gallagher brothers

“Liam was ok to speak to but he had total disregard for any music other than themselves or the [Stone] Roses that were clearly about to lose their thunder to the new Manchester band,” remembers Neil.

“I totally had known the buzz on the band and knew they were destined for greatness from having demos, the white label single and all the right team behind them.

“I had run the venue for years with my DJ pal Mark Johnson and girlfriend at the time.

“[On the night of the gig] we decided to up our game and lay a good rider on with some wholesome Hot Pot food, hoping we could give the boys something from [their mum] Peggy Gallagher’s kitchen.

“We later found out that the crew and band were grateful and Liam and Noel said “fuck this we’re going to McDonald’s”. At this point the conversation dried up.”

Stage presence

On stage, Neil said that Liam delivered what would become his trademark arrogance, “hanging on the mic with his snarl vocal”.

“I think the band were a little surprised that a keen dozen or so [in the crowd] were singing back unreleased songs, thanks to my girlfriend’s brother who had been playing the demo in the 6th form common room at Samuel Whitbread school, drumming me up some trade.

“The stories the next day were all about them trashing the Embankment hotel, playing songs in the corridor and taking some Bedford groupies back.

Liam Gallagher, Oasis at Bedford Angel 24.3.94. Image: Kev Bailey
Liam Gallagher, Oasis at Bedford Angel 24 March 1994. Image: Kev Bailey

“The big known tune that had started to hit the radio and played by our own club DJ was the white label, Columbia, then the Beatles I Am The Walrus and of course Supersonic – the single,” said Neil.

Trainers from Planet in Bedford town centre?

A big story in Bedford’s live music folklore is that the band bough trainers from Planet in Bedford’s town centre. But is this true or an urban myth?

Neil confirms that the band did get some trainers from Planet (the shop he co-owned in the old Arcade in Bedford), but not on the night.

“When they [later] played at the Northampton Roadmender we were on the guest list and backstage they spotted a few of us in rare retro Adidas, Puma etc.

“I don’t think the fact we had promoted Bedford or attended the gigs meant much and there seemed to be tension in the camp even back then.

“However, “Where did you get the traineeees?“ was the chat. On telling them our story of vintage finds they suggested popping in the store when passing Bedford.

“In the end, we followed them to Ilford’s Island venue with a box of old skool Adidas and Puma, and, after a disastrous gig where the club night heavy metal kids took to the stage touched Liam and Noel did some air guitar and leapt back into the crowd, it was a box of trainers to the rescue.

“After some inquest into playing the wrong night, we set about properly making friends with trainer happiness and the band asked the tour manager for a payday advance – like they were spending their dinner money.

Bonehead, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Oasis at Bedford Angel 24.3.94. Image: Kev Bailey
Bonehead, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Oasis at Bedford Angel 24 March 94. Image: Kev Bailey

“I even met Liam and his tour manager backstage at Astoria when things really started to kick off and I had a car boot full of trainers. Noel was sound checking so Liam was adamant he would be getting first dibs ahead of ‘Our Kid’.

“As he rummaged the trainers in my boot, we had a visit from the Old Bill.

“I was explaining myself as I guess it probably was illegal to trade out the car boot in the centre of London and Liam took over with some chat about them playing a gig and me bringing trainers.

“I had a Planet bag in the car and the police suggested we hurry along and that’s the last I see of Liam till Knebworth.”

What were Whiteout like?

“We put on loads of bands back then and my recall was whilst a co-headline tour, Whiteout soon knew where the hype was and who was selling the tickets and they could only ever be the band that supported Oasis,” said Neil.

“No disrespect, but I think Scotland had a proper band of their own in Teenage Fanclub and to many, Whiteout were seen to be chasing shadows.”

From the audience

Kayte Pippett was among the crowd at the gig and spoke to the Bedford Clanger about what she remembered of the gig.

“I was 15 at the time and the Angel was one of the few places we could get into. I think it was supposed to be an over-18s venue but we were never stopped,” she said.

“We couldn’t get into Esquires so easily at that time so we went to the Angel most weeks.

“We were in a crowd of kids that used to hang around in the town centre, visit the record shops and drink in the Bear on the High Street. We’d walk down, sometimes getting a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 from the shop across the road. – [Halycon days – Ed].

“I remember that people were saying Oasis were going to be the next big thing, but we would have gone to see any band that was playing, it didn’t matter to us.

“I’m pretty sure local legends, Sick on the Bus, were [also] supporting* because I have a memory of snogging the short, hairy fella instead of watching Oasis. I remember them being pretty full of themselves but beyond that, it’s a bit hazy.”

  • * The Nubiles were the support act.

The venue

Lloyd Lugsden, author of the Dead Pubs of Bedfordshire books told us about the history of the pub.

“The Angel pub on Elstow Road was a mecca for music fans since it opened in 1924,” he said.

The Angel. Image: Facebook/The Bygone Years

“It had a function room upstairs for tea dances and wedding receptions and was a hotel at one point.

“Len Whale ran it in the 1980s and put on jazz, blues and rock bands and an older clientele would frequent the bar.

“In the 90s Britpop blew up and promoters Kev Bailey, Neil Primett plus Ian ‘Milky’ Kemp put on acts including Elastica and Oasis, as well as punk, crusty, indie and metal music.

“The pub was a replacement for the old Angel which was originally on Cauldwell Street from the 1600s until the 1920s. Flats replaced the Elstow Road pub in the 1990s.”

Don’t dismiss the support/co-headliner

Oasis may have been on the undercard that night 30 years ago, but they’ve lived on longer in the memory than Whiteout who split in 1999, albeit in a somewhat less dramatic fashion than the Gallagher brothers.

Over the years, Esquires in Bedford has played host to countless support acts who have gone on to have more successful careers than those on the top of the bill.

“I guess as a music lover and someone who runs a venue, I would always suggest coming down to see the support artist,” said Gareth Barber, owner of Esquires.

“Not only are you supporting bands who are on their first steps into touring, but you’re also contributing to the spaces that put them on.

“Most touring artists travel with a tour support, booked by the agent or management of the headline band. More often than not, these are their ‘next big thing’, and they’re looking to get invaluable experience on the road before their own headline tours.

Lizzo at Esquires. Image: Ian Campbell
Lizzo at Bedford Esquires. Image: Ian Campbell

“In my own time at Esquires, we’ve seen international celeb, Lizzo supporting Har Mar Superstar, Alt-J supporting Ghostpoet, Bloc Party supporting Graham Coxon, Alfie Templeman supporting The Scruff – the list goes on.

“Notable supports at Bedford shows that went on to be massive also include The Bluetones supporting Supergrass, Coldplay supporting Terris, Jamie T supporting Laura Marling and the one that got away – Adele supporting Jack Penate.

“Adele pulled out on the day with a sore throat and still owes the promoter a return show at the promised £50 support fee.”

So, the moral of the story is don’t skip the support act, go and see bands at grassroots venues and when Adelle does come to Bedford, we’ll see you down the front.

 
 
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