wed 10/08/2022

Liam Gallagher, Brighton Centre review - a rip-roaring sing-along | reviews, news & interviews

Liam Gallagher, Brighton Centre review - a rip-roaring sing-along

Liam Gallagher, Brighton Centre review - a rip-roaring sing-along

Mixing half Oasis, half new stuff, the younger Gallagher cannot and doesn't fail

Liam Gallagher is a great rock star. However, he often comes across as not a likeable person. He’s called himself “a cunt” on more than one occasion. But he bleeds inarticulate insouciance and arrogant rage. He doesn’t raise even half a smile throughout this whole gig. He carries himself with a chin-jutting, I-dare-you posture that adds up to charisma. And he can sneer-sing the hell out of a song. All that stuff used to be what we wanted from our singers before the post-Travis era of fleece-wearing, kindly, average-guy-next-door rockers.

He comes on, parka zipped to the top, just like his audience. All Gallagher’s male fans button up to the top, zipped up, and they strut, as does he. The crowd is 70-80% male but, despite the streets of Brighton being overrun with a mass of braggadocio, the gig is less tensely masculine than anticipated. Instead it’s a celebration. He opens with Oasis, “Rock’n’Roll Star” followed by “Morning Glory”, the latter’s great opening line still sinewy – “All my dreams are made/Chained to the mirror and the razor blade”. It works a treat. Half his set is Oasis, but intermingled with new material in a way that’s persuasive. There’s a boozy party spirit here tonight. A sense that it’s Christmas and let’s not over-analyse.

Gallagher’s comeback this year, his ostensibly semi-accidental solo career in the wake of his post-Oasis band Beady Eye’s demise, has been spectacular. In As You Were he has the fastest selling album of the year, and one of its best-selling (also the biggest UK vinyl album sales in two decades!). This seasonal tour of Britain is, then, a triumphant round, a return to the limelight to match the ongoing success of his brother’s High Flying Birds. His album contains a few juicy cuts and some of them match past glories this evening. “Paper Crown” channels Noel Gallagher’s way with strummed emotiveness, the single “For What It’s Worth” has the crowd bellowing along, for “Universal Gleam” he brings on a female cellist to good effect, and “You Better Run” has admirable punk energy.

With his five-piece band and three-piece brass section, Gallagher essays his back catalogue with aplomb. Between songs the crowd chant “Liam! Liam!” as if he were a football team. His relentlessly belligerent, heavy-lidded face stares from two black and white screens either side of the stage. For the latter half of the set he's trackie-hooded like a casual Emperor Palpatine. And he’s not one for chat, the only notable asides being remarks about how Brighton & Hove Albion “didn’t do [Manchester] City”, asking “are there any hippies in the house?”, and telling us the crowd affection is appreciated. With much of it, it’s possible to see an introverted man covering his social awkwardness with bluster.

Brit-pop was the smug invention of London media sorts who basically didn’t like or appreciate rave culture swamping the country. It was the idea of a retrogressive minority, the ones who missed Sixties-style pop stars, so they invented them in a pub in Camden. Oasis, however, were the exception, a real socio-musical explosion in their own right, a Happy Mondays vibe matched with acerbic John Lennon-meets-Status Quo rock, all bullishly retro. They understood 1990s chemical hedonism better than their twee poseur peers. And the best of their songs still have potency.

So it proves with “Supersonic” which is a ballistic, wonderful rock song; with “Live Forever”, the lyrics of which are trite and silly yet human, raw and touching, sung so loudly and passionately by Gallagher and the crowd (“Maybe you're the same as me/We see things they'll never see/ You and I are gonna live forever”). We let so many left-field bands get away with meaningless abstract lyrical bollocks, after all. Then, for the first encore, “Wonderwall” achieves national anthem status, 4,500 beered-up souls bellowing along.

That’s where he should have left it but, ever perverse, as we’re all shuffling out, and post-gig music is playing (Sid Vicious’s “My Way”), he reappears to do an unnecessary version of Bob Marley’s “Natural Mystic”. It’s not reggae, happily, and not too bad either, just unnecessary. But it was also of no consequence. Liam Gallagher has already given his people what they were after and it proved a tonic. This writer left smiling to a seafront full of swaying, singing people.

Overleaf: Watch the Shane Meadows-directed video for "Come Back to Me" by Liam Gallagher

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