The Gallagher brothers signed the cheques themselves, so the fans' quandary is thus: keep the cheques as an investment or cash them in and forfeit the memorabilia.
Some might say Oasis are cheap
These are uneasy times and we must clutch at every fil we can, like a squirrel readying itself for hibernation. Imagine the financial pickle, then, that several thousand Oasis fans now find themselves in. Last month, at a gig just outside Manchester at Heaton Park, more than 70,000 fans flocked to see the band belt out classics like Wonderwall, Some Might Say and Don't Look Back in Anger. For this dubious pleasure, they each parted with £45 (Dh270).
The problems kicked off at the start of the set when generator problems meant Liam, Noel and the other members of the band walked offstage to boos from the crowd. The boys and their eyebrows waltzed on again 10 minutes later, but difficulties struck back and this time the band was forced to retreat for 40 minutes while stage hands frantically tweaked wires and fixed the situation. "Really sorry about that," said Liam when they re-appeared. "This is a free gig now. Everyone will get a refund." For those who are acquainted with Liam Gallagher and his charmless utterings, that in itself is something of a feat. He is, after all, the brother who recently told fans at a Coventry gig to stop clapping in time to the music. "This is Oasis, not Simple Minds," he shouted gracelessly.
Back in Manchester before the evening was out, his brother Noel was fighting back with a more traditional Gallagher tone. "Kind of regret offering you your money back now," he said bitterly. The plot thickens. Twenty thousand fans applied for a refund, which has left Oasis facing a bill of £900,000 (Dh5.36m). A promise is a promise though, even in Manchester, and the lengthy process of refunds started last week. But what's this? The Gallagher brothers have signed the refund cheques themselves, and the cheques - though officially from NatWest - have been amended so they look like they've been issued by the fictitious Oasis Bank of Burnage, the Mancunian district where the pair grew up.
In case the fans don't realise the crafty intentions behind this ploy, a band spokeswoman helpfully offered an explanation. "People can cash them in," she said. "But they are quite distinctive, so a few people might decide to keep them." So after all that, the fans' quandary is thus: keep the cheques as an investment or cash in their current value and forfeit a piece of Oasis memorabilia. Several have already made their way on to eBay. "I have put it on here for the diehard fans to have one," explains a seller named purplejo1010. "I have obviously put a reserve fee so that I do not loose [sic] out in any way." Of course, Purplejo1010, for what kind of monstrous world do we live in if we cannot make a quick buck online?
Other Oasis fansites are rife with discussions over the problem, too. "Colour copy it so you have a copy which looks like the original and then cash it in. Simple!" witters Mike S from Manchester. Another fan, Black Flag, compares the dastardly duo's move to that of Salvador Dalí, who used to draw pictures on the back of cheques he would write for restaurant bills so that they would end up framed, not cashed in. The brothers aren't perhaps in quite the same league, but it's a touching sentiment, Black Flag.
So for the Gallagher brothers, the moral of the story is perhaps make absolutely sure that you've run through a sound check before the start of a gig. They appeared not to have taken this on board before their Wembley show last week when a rendition of Wonderwall was beset with sound problems. On that occasion, however, Noel moved like a viper. "Can I just categorically say no one is getting their money back," he announced.
For the fans, given the precarious nature of the world's banking systems, they might find the cheques currently more valuable than cash anyway. According to one of the world's most comprehensive autograph indices, Fraser's, the scribble of a celebrity can wield worthy dividends. Since 1997, for example, autographs by a motley groups of names as disparate as Fidel Castro, Princess Diana, Neil Armstrong and Paul McCartney have appreciated more than 1,000 per cent. Get bidding for those cheques on eBay, trophy hunters; to the victor belong the spoils.