The Verse’s Lorenzo Ottone reviews Liam Gallagher at Brighton Centre on 15th December 2017.
A handful of years ago, I would have been extremely excited by the idea of seeing Oasis songs performed live. I probably wouldn’t even have slept the night before. But times do change; the band has now long split and now Liam and Noel have their own personal careers.
The buzz I feel for Liam Gallagher in Brighton Centre’s foyer, though, is all but faded away. To hardcore fans – ranging from teens doing their best to look like members of a Man City firm to classic mod dads – Oasis are still a thing, their songs a laic bible.
For a moment I wonder if I am at a gig or at a football match. Youngsters queue for beer, chanting and moving relentlessly – causing a beer stall’s sign to collapse inches from my head.
The excitement in the air nearly turns into tension, until Oasis’ F***in’ in the Bushes is blasted by the speakers to introduce Liam’s walk on stage. My pint doesn’t survive more than 20 seconds (and that’s still a good record) and I have to be quick to catch my eyeglasses floating in the air after getting trapped into an insane mosh pit.
Liam walks on stage wrapped up in one of his usual Stone Island parkas telling everybody to get ready for a night of rock’n’roll – exactly like the banner covering the keyboards says.
Liam quotes – no surprise – The Beatles. “I am he, as you are he, as you are me and we are all together.” Then Rock’n’Roll Star kicks off the night.
The crowd reacts with the enthusiasm of that lover who had been waiting too long to see again his girlfriend.
The gates of Eden have been opened and to R’n’R Star follows Morning Glory, for one of the most epic starts ever witnessed live.
To get everyone back to reality, Liam delivers a series of songs from his new solo album. Greedy Soul, Wall of Glass, Bold, Paper Crown and For What It’s Worth all work well on stage. The latter already proves to be a crowd’s favourite with its bold line
“in my defence all my intentions were good, and heaven owns a place somewhere for the misunderstood”
that sums up, in a nutshell, Liam’s – and his fans – attitude to life. Horns and strings help making new tunes stand out from Oasis’ past catalogue and show that Liam has got some decent songwriting skills.
The mosh pit is wild, pints fly everywhere (now I understand the importance of plastic glasses) and in the seating area everyone’s standing.
Liam keeps things as classy as you’d expect from him with his wishes for a “Merry Christmas and all those bo****ks.”
New numbers Come Back to Me, You Better Run and Universal Gleam followed by an epic Supersonic close the set.
It doesn’t take long before Liam is on stage again. Wearing the parka’s hood covering his head he says: “The man is not fu**in’ off. I’m sweating but I’m not off.”
The audience knows there still are some bombs to be dropped and the first to come is Cigarettes and Alcohol, a true life anthem for many (and probably many students’) Christmas holidays plan. Liam’s name is spelt like that of a team’s football star and flares are lit giving that final footy game touch the gig required.
Live Forever is touching, especially considering the new level of meaning it assumed after Liam’s performance at Manchester One Love concert last spring.
Unexpectedly there’s still time for Wonderwall. The sing-along is huge but the cover choice is slightly banal and after the power of Live Forever even Wonderwall struggles to impress.
Liam leaves the stage still wrapped up in his hooded parka and the audience starts walking away on the notes of Joey Ramone’s version of My Way.
Less than a minute into the song that Liam makes a surprise stage comeback forcing the audience to rush again into the room for a surprise cover of Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Natural Mystic– good and original, but rather non-essential to top the gig, especially when coming after a perfect first encore.
Liam proves to be still in top form and most of all that he is having genuine fun performing solo. Left the tensions of a band at his back ‘R Kid seems to have found his egocentric dimension with the audience’s eyes all for him.
New material survives the live test and proves to be exactly what you’d expect from Liam. A balanced mixture of Beatles influences and Oasis reminiscences.
One can say anything about Liam, but it can’t be denied the new album is truly genuine and heartfelt. Even the man himself knows it’s nothing special, but that doesn’t actually matter at this point.
It is controversial, though, that half the setlist is made of Oasis songs – especially those penned by Noel. Liam never misses a chance to slag his brother off, but he does help himself with no remorse in using his songs to win the audience. The outcome is a gig that tastes more like a karaoke night for most of its time rather than a live performance.
Music has moved on, but no one here both on and off stage seems to have noticed it. It’s 2017 but the audience is still stuck to that ‘hey geezer’/Pretty Green clobber combo. And I’m talking about grown-ups, not 14-year-olds who are just discovering music.
It’s only rock’n’roll but, yes, we still love it.