Out & About – Masterplan 25

Masterplan 25 banner image with a black background and Liam's face in the centre.

25 years ago, I was 14 years old and playing trombone in the school brass band when everything changed. A school friend handed me a copy of Definitely Maybe and an acoustic guitar and said, “I can show you how to play Live Forever if you want?” And that was that. My whole musical outlook changed almost on the spot and through the snarling swagger of that album I went back into the past finding my way to artists such as Paul Weller and by extension The Jam, The Small Faces, The Kinks and my obsession with The Beatles can also be traced back to that day. So, to say I’m an Oasis fan is a bit of an understatement. It’s their fault that I play guitar and it’s their fault that my CD collection (yes I still have one) is a journey through rock acts from the last 60 years. When Musical Theatre Musings asked if I would like to attend Masterplan 25, the latest photography exhibition from Michael Spencer Jones who shot the artwork for Oasis’ first three albums and their accompanying singles, I leapt at the chance.

Be Here Now at night.

As you approach the h club on your way in to see Masterplan 25, you are greeted with an imposing photograph of a young Liam Gallagher, from the time when Oasis were at their peak. Liam’s trademark moodiness is in full effect, and reflecting the lyrics of the opening track of Definitely Maybe perfectly. “Tonight, I’m a Rock n Roll Star…”

For Masterplan 25, Michael Spencer Jones has scoured his archives and found some rare shots and alternate versions of some of the most iconic artwork for arguably the most important British band of the last 25 years. Accompanying the photographs are some great anecdotes from him about the thinking behind the photographs and some of the stories attached to them, some of which were unknown to me. For instance, all Oasis fans would have spent time poring over the cover of Some Might Saylooking for the nods to the lyrics like “The sink is full of fishes” and the lady with “Dirty dishes on the brain”. However, I didn’t know that the cover for Shakermaker was conceived with the idea of showing the effect of Oasis’ soundwaves on everyday objects. On the front, the scene is normal, but the back cover shows that everything has been melted, supposedly through the sheer force of playing Oasis at high volume. The stories also set the scene as to the mood of the band at a time when they were exploding onto the scene and going from the clubs and pubs of Manchester to their history-making headline shows at Knebworth in the space of just two years.

Liam by the pool

There are also some nice little gems for the die-hard Oasis fan like me in there, such as Noel Gallagher’s original hand-written chord sheets and lyrics to songs like Don’t Look Back in Anger and the aforementioned Live Forever. On top of that, who could resist the opportunity to recreate the front cover of Definitely Maybe with the set and props in the corner of the room, complete with carafe of red wine, twenty Benson, photo of Burt Bacharach and Epiphone guitar?

All in all, Masterplan 25 is well worth a look for any fan of music, but to fans of Oasis like me this is one exhibition that should be seen before it’s gone.

Review by Ben Goodchild

Masterplan 25 is on at h Club until 12th January 2020. It is a free of charge, non ticketed event.

If you like this review you might also like my write up of Mandela The Official Exhibition, The Musical Theatre Quiz and Six.

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