tue 20/08/2019

Liam Gallagher, Valletta, Malta review - underperformed but rapturously received | reviews, news & interviews

Liam Gallagher, Valletta, Malta review - underperformed but rapturously received

Liam Gallagher, Valletta, Malta review - underperformed but rapturously received

Former Oasis frontman relies on classics to raise the evening

'Surely it’s the responsibility of the frontman to gee up the crowd, not vice versa'Daryl Cauchi Photography / Malta Shows

Rock ‘n’ roll. That’s what was promised. It was emblazoned on the organ for all to see. And if that visual guarantee was too subtle, the set began with “Rock 'n’ Roll Star”. Only, despite the swagger, Liam Gallagher doesn’t really live up to the promise live. It’s loud enough, and the songs talk the talk, but this balmy night in Malta appeared to be just another day in the office for the former Oasis frontman.

That’s not to say the evening wasn’t enjoyable. In fact, for anyone half-interested in music during the 90s, it’s nearly impossible not to grin ear to ear during the opening strains of “Morning Glory”. Those early songs have become timeless, still regularly played across European radio (and Radio X, of course). The whole island nearly fell into the sea during “Roll With It”, such was the ferocity of the jumping and stamping. The crowd was more than ready to swim if needed.

Strangely, Gallagher was completely oblivious to this energy. He’s always had a static singing position, but there was no effort to elaborate on his performance. During guitar solos, he wandered about the stage shrugging, preoccupied more by his monitor engineer than the crowd. Even a half-arsed attempt at tambourine is quickly discarded. At one point, he asks “Mal’a” to turn up, because there’s no vibe. Surely it’s the responsibility of the frontman to gee up the crowd, not vice versa.Liam Gallagher in Valletta, MaltaPerhaps the cause of this was the “Platinum VIP section”, a private-access buffer between the public and the stage, for pampered press (yours truly included) and punters willing to pay £90 for a free gig. There was certainly a noted difference in enthusiasm between the VIPs and the public – not enough to put off a seasoned pro like Gallagher, but still an issue.

Though his performance left much to be desired, Gallagher’s vocals held up surprisingly well. Early songs had their strained moments (maybe getting them out of the way), but these were smoothed over as the evening progressed. Acoustic performances of “Champagne Supernova” and “Wonderwall” particularly shone, with the inclusion of a cello a nice reference to the original recording.

The set list comprised Oasis’s first two albums and his solo record. These newer tracks suffer by comparison, sounding like they were written by a machine fed only Gallagher clichés (which might not be far from the truth). “Wall of Glass” is perhaps the best of the bunch, but you can’t help feel that heritage act status is around the corner. Play the hits and make a killing. Especially when the new stuff sounds like half-remembered old stuff.

The set was wrapped in just over an hour – were this a paying gig, you might feel short-changed. But the people of Malta made the evening themselves, singing along with unbridled passion. Perhaps Gallagher can take a leaf from Dave at Glastonbury, grab a super fan and let them perform. Might raise the energy to the rock 'n’ roll levels promised.

@OwenRichards91

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