Love him or loathe him, Liam Gallagher is still so. fucking. good
16.12.2019

Love him or loathe him, Liam Gallagher is still so. fucking. good

1 / 3
Words by Chris Lewis
Pics by Dan Soderstrom

This was a special treat for Oasis fans.

“I’m feelin’ Supersonic, gimme gin and ton” – that’s about as far as we got. Stage Black. And then came the boos. A venue, with no residents within a 500m radius, for some inexplicable reason had an 11pm curfew and so the plug was pulled and the night was over; despite the fact there’s still three minutes to go in Liam Gallagher’s last song of the evening. You’d expect this in Sydney’s nanny state, but the arts capital of Australia deserves better.

In the days that followed, blame was batted around by venue management, the promoter Secret Sounds and by Liam himself, who took all of eight minutes to get off stage and fire off a broadside on Twitter calling it, in his true Mancunian vernacular, a “load of wank”. Some said his 9.45pm start was too late, others said the EPA noise restrictions that enforce the curfew were unfit for the occasion. A cynical commentator would point out that this is exactly the kind of overly dramatic bullshit that Gallagher has made a name for himself in the past. He may be one of the world’s biggest rock stars, but he’s also an unrepentant diva. Regardless of the blame game, it wasn’t a good look.

But the saddest thing about the ensuing hyperbole was that it distracted from a proper boozy rock’n’roll show. If you closed your eyes, it was clear you were watching the best Oasis tribute band of all time. And that in essence, is Liam’s greatest strength and weakness as solo artist. Although he would never mutter the words aloud, he knows that he cannot ever replace Noel on guitar.

There’s too much reverb in the opening notes of ‘Morning Glory’, the strumming of ‘Wonderwall’ is ever so slightly offbeat and everyone knows the best part of ‘Acquiesce’ is Liam cutting off the final word of Noel’s chorus, always ever so eager to put his mark on the song. These are small details, but it’s what will always separate a Liam Gallagher show from an Oasis show; like buying a Louis Vuitton bag from a street vendor in Bangkok, it’s pretty close to the real deal but you know in your heart of hearts it’s not.

But just add six pints and who gives a shit. Walking on stage to one of the greatest instrumental tracks in pop music history, ‘Fuckin’ In The Bushes’, it serves as a prelude for his adopted callsign, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Star’. With this Liam proceeds to give the lairy Melbourne crowd a masterclass in swagger. Spraying beer inflected spittle at the microphone, he stalked the stage, maraca in hand, belting out Oasis classics like the seriously under-rated Definitely Maybe cut ‘Columbia’ and ‘Gas Panic!’, which is easily the best song from his previous band’s worst album.

His solo material is better than the oh-so-hip media press would have you believe, especially ‘Once’ that successfully taps into the ‘Me Against the World’ ethos that has defined the younger Gallagher for so long. But he’s nothing if not self-aware. He knows that his new material lacks the vim and vigour of his youthful spirit and he is lovingly unashamed in leaning on Oasis’s back catalogue.

Dedicating ‘Stand By Me’ to the brave Australian firefighters, it was a moment of pure warmth from his otherwise brutish temperament and also the biggest arm-in-arm moment of the night, before the unmistakable opening chords of ‘Wonderwall’ lifted the roof off Margaret Court.

Proving he still got some fight in him, he spots a man wearing a Manchester United top in the front row and starts trash-talking him from the stage. It’s a spectacular troll of a man who has been a voracious Manchester City supporter since well before their Abu Dhabi billions. ‘Roll With It’ and ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ punctuate a raucous encore where the beer to oxygen ratio in the arena air neared 50:50. If only the EPA could measure that.

Love him or loathe him, there is an unmistakable charm to the man once crowned by the British press to be ‘The Greatest Frontman of All Time’. His ongoing feud with Gallagher Snr may continue to limit his relevance as a recording artist; but as a live performer, standing before his rabid devotees, he is still the consummate Rock ‘n’ Roll Star: “You’re not down with who I am, look at you now, you’re all in my hands tonight…”

Highlight: ‘Gas Panic!’ just because it came from nowhere and is a true deep cut for the fans.

Lowlight: If you cut short ‘Supersonic’ in London the people would burn Wembley to the ground.

Crowd favourite: ‘Morning Glory’ still packs the same punch it did in 1995.