- 12 Jun 17
Our Kid Lays Out His Solo Stall
There is a street party going on outside the Olympia Theatre. Beer is being swilled, songs are being sung, tickets are being vainly sought; the night is in full swing before it has even begun. Once credentials and refreshments are secured, Hot Press repairs to the smoking area. If you had no idea who was playing tonight, a good guess could be hazarded based on the crowd out puffing. There are many here who were obviously of age when Oasis first broke through, some still trying to maintain the same haircut, albeit with less raw material to work with. I am awoken from this reverie by the welcome sight of a good old seventies style streaker. Yes, really. And it isn’t the unappealing sight, to me at least, of a swinging tackle either, but that of a very presentable young lady, giving it the full Godiva. Is it some sort of art project from a nearby theatre, or perhaps just an excess of drink? Or maybe Mr Gallagher himself had arranged it, in order to obtain more “column inches” from the likes of me. We may never know.
In his recent book Uncommon People, respected rock scribe David Hepworth reckoned on Kurt Cobain as the last of the real rock stars, but I would argue that it is Liam Gallagher who warrants that title. It is there in every step and gesture as he walks on stage to the strains of ‘Fucking In The Bushes’, looking fit and impossibly handsome, carrying off some class of hooded parka thing that would leave anyone else looking ridiculous. He acknowledges the crowd’s roar before laying out his stall with ‘Rock N’ Roll Star’. The choice of song could not be more perfect, for that is what he undoubtedly is.
‘Morning Glory’ follows, causing the audience, already gone full ballistic, to step it up a notch. I heard an unconfirmed story that Gallagher had been handing out passes like Christmas cards around Dublin, which may account for the grand old theatre seeming impossibly full. The crowd eddies and swirls as one, people are hoisted on to shoulders, shirts are removed and swung about, I haven’t seen it like this in here since the night Iggy Pop pretty much forced the bouncers to give up and go home.
“You can’t spend too long in the past; they’ll give you a ticket” is how Gallagher justifies getting around to the business he’s here for - presenting his new songs. We get seven or eight of them, the single ‘Wall Of Glass’ stands up well enough, the rest will require another few listens before proper judgement can be passed. Titles like ‘Universal Gleam’, Greedy Soul’ and ‘All I Need’, wherein “everything is alright”, we should “never look back”, and we can “make a better day” indicate wheel reinventing is hardly on the agenda. Backed by a band that may have been selected from an Indie-Rocker-For-Hire catalogue, there are Ringo drum fills, moogy keyboard lines, and Lennon style acoustic bits, all his usual tics, but the album, when it arrives, should at least be worth a listen.
Things get more exciting with ‘D’You Know What I Mean?’ during which Gallagher dodges a flying bottle with impossible cool. The song sounds monumental, like a truck coming through a window. ‘Slide Away’ follows, grown men in the audience cry and hug each other. There is more new stuff before they finish with ‘Be Here Now’, hardly Oasis’ finest moment, but it is properly rousing in this setting.
He returns to the stage to dedicate a last song to the victims of the Manchester tragedy, singing ‘Live Forever’ unaccompanied, his voice tonight as striking and unique as it was when it first jumped out of the radio more than two decades ago. These songs belong as much to him as to the older Gallagher, perhaps even more so, for his howl is the sound of Oasis. Noel can write songs from now until the day he dies, none of them will capture the public’s hearts like those the brothers recorded together, and a lot of that is down to the sheer presence Liam brought to them. If he is not the voice of a generation, then he is most definitely a voice in a generation.
The last of the rock stars. Good to see him back in business.