Firsthand account of Toronto incident where
Noel Gallagher got assaulted.
By Kyle Gustafson
[Editor’s note: Author
Gustafson was at the Oasis show Sept. 7 in Toronto when guitarist Noel Gallagher was
knocked over by an assailant. He reported back to BLURT on what he saw (and had
the pictures to prove it). Since then the man who hit Gallagher, 47-year old
Daniel Sullivan, has been charged with assault by Toronto
police, and Oasis had to cancel their following show, originally scheduled for
Sept. 9 in London, Ontario, while Gallagher recovers from his injuries.]
When I booked my trip to Canada to see Oasis play the
Toronto Edition of the Virgin Mobile Festival, I had no idea what I was getting
myself into. I just wanted to hear my favorite band sprinkle in some new
tunes while playing some of their classic stadium anthems to 20,000+ people and
see how many times people actually said “Mad fer it” over the course
of the day.
Sunday had actually been full of stress and intrigue for me. Rumors were
flying backstage as to what was going to happen during Oasis’ set. Among
other things, Brad Pitt was supposedly going to come out and introduce the band
to the crowd (he was in town for the Toronto International Film Festival) and
Paul Weller was allegedly scheduled to make an appearance when the band played
“Champagne Supernova” (The Modfather played lead guitar and sang
backing vocals on the recorded version). Sadly, neither ended up
happening. All the photogs covering the festival were worried they weren’t
going to be allowed to shoot the band from the photo pit when the time came,
and, as it turns out, most weren’t. Including me.
A few of us decided to make our way into the crowd and hope to get a good spot
from there to shoot the show, but after wading into the sea of fans, we quickly
found out how pointless that was, so we headed back to the VIP/Media area-which
was on an incline and therefore had a better view of the stage-to drown our
sorrows at the backstage bar.
The band hit the stage shortly after their allotted 9:10 stage time and started
in on the same set they’ve been playing on this tour. They were in good
but not great form, but for someone that hadn’t seen them in over three years,
they sounded heavenly. Liam was at his menacingly best, but the new drummer
still has some kinks to work out. Liquor drinks were consumed, choruses were
sung along to and every once in a while I would take out my zoom lens and take
a photo or two, hoping to get something passable for my own personal
collection, even though I was a few hundred feet away. I had flown all the way
up to Canada
to shoot the band and after being denied the opportunity by the band’s
management, I figured I would at least get something for my troubles.
The lighting was alternating between deep blue to bright white when they
started “Morning Glory” so I raised my camera and took aim through
the viewfinder, trying to get a few shots when the light turned white.
And then that’s when I saw him. Some crazed punter emerging from the back
of the stage, heading straight towards Noel. He had both of his arms
extended and gave Noel a mighty push from behind. I couldn’t really
believe what was happening as it was unfolding, but luckily I remembered to hit
the shutter button while it played out. Noel landed in the monitors in
front of him with a loud thud as the punter turned attacker turned to go after
Liam. Liam didn’t seem to be aware of what was going on, but security
jumped on the assailant before he could cause any further chaos.
Needless to say, the crowd, at least those around me, were in complete and
utter shock. Noel got up, holding his back, and walked off under his own
power. Liam was chasing after the guards, trying to get a lick or two in
I guess, and the rest of the band quickly left the stage. After a short time,
someone affiliated with the festival came onstage and said the band would
return in five minutes. This turned out to be true, as Noel and company
walked back on stage to huge, thundering applause.
Strangely, neither Noel nor Liam mentioned anything about the event that just
transpired in front of their fans. I assume Noel was just putting
his head down to try and get through the gig, which he and the band did,
cutting two songs – “Ain’t Got Nothing” and “Champagne
Noel actually sang lead on three of the remaining six songs in the set,
including the new tune “Falling Down” (oh, the irony) and the most
memorable version of “Don’t Look Back In Anger” (a song I don’t much
care for) that I have ever heard. But sadly, the gig’s momentum had been
lost and everyone’s mind was on the attack. How did the intruder
gain access to the stage? What if he had had a knife? Was Noel alright?
Did security beat the shit out of that guy or what? How many people (both
festival and band security) would lose their jobs over this? What about the
last two gigs of the tour?
Noel left the stage quickly at the end of “I Am The Walrus,” one can
only wonder what went down backstage as the crowd slowly made their ways to the
ferries that would take them back to Toronto proper. All I can say for
sure is that he has my eternal respect for finishing the gig.
[Kyle Gustafson is a freelance
photographer living in Washington, D.C. See
his work on the web at the contacts below.]