Though they've been commercially overshadowed by the gooey pandering of Coldplay and challenged by the recent reinvigoration of the original title holders, the Rolling Stones, the case can still be made that Oasis is indeed the world's greatest rock and roll band. Or, more accurately, many of the world's greatest bands all rolled up into one majestic act, raising a hallowed legacy to high art.
Oasis has never made a secret of its grand ambitions, nor has it denied that its sound consists of homage raised to the nth degree. This is, after all, a band that titled an album Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. And if the Beatles had remained together as well as forever young, it's no conceptual stretch to think that by the 1990s they might have sounded a lot like Oasis.
But their stylistic and structural fixation on the Beatles which one must admit is as good a starting point as any is only the core of what has made Oasis such a landmark modern band. One likely reason that America never embraced them as tightly as their homeland did (along with much of the rest of the world) is the band's quintessential Britishness. But while it may have worked against Oasis's stateside success, their resolute national identity has been the source of many musical triumphs. There's a fine line between inspiration and imitation, and while Oasis has practiced the former like a mission statement, the band has never fallen prey to the latter. Sure, you can hear the Stones, the Who, the Kinks, Mott the Hoople and a handful of other Brit-rock greats referenced and recast into the Oasis sound. Yet it's as if they melted down the best UK vinyl and etched new grooves into it, never failing to show the mark of their own hand.
And who else these days offers rock and roll that's as grand in its reach and massive in its sonic richness? As much as the Gallagher brothers identify with their historical antecedents, their ambition has always been to write today's history under their own banner. Yes, they may have stumbled after coming out of the starting gate like champions going straight for the platinum, but 2005's Don't Believe the Truth found the boys back on the beam and further deepening their uncanny artistic alchemy. Tuesday night's show could well turn out to be less a concert and more a celebration of the lasting verities of British rock and roll. And as a makeup date for last year's cancellation, as well as the last show of their current North American tour, Houston might just be blessed with an evening of exclamatory fervor.