Liam Gallagher at the O2 Arena
It’s been a long 18 months for everyone. Many people have been starved of the things they love, whether it’s contact with friends and family, concerts or sporting moments seen in the flesh. If it’s been bad for everybody, it’s been even worse for those working for the NHS – who have put their lives and wellbeing on the line to help those in need. So it’s with delight that this reviewer can report that Liam Gallagher gave the workers an amazing treat on Tuesday night. Though for many years he has been maligned as the less talented but shoutier Oasis brother, in recent times he has carved out something of a status as a minor national treasure, purely by sticking to what he’s good at.
From the moment the artist comes on stage to the sound of F*ckin’ in the Bushes there is a sense of electricity around the O2 Arena. This is added to by the sounds of Hello (and its apt lyric, “It’s good to be back”) and Columbia, an underrated but essential element of the band’s oeuvre.
The artist, of course, must go through the solo stuff. But while songs like Wall of Glass, Paper Crown and Shockwave are pale imitations of his Oasis heyday, they are at least imitations, which is better than what his brother is up to right now. As a group, they have gone from being celebrated as the future of music to representing everything that’s wrong with it by the 1990s. But they are perhaps best appraised as one would a kebab: immensely satisfying and enjoyable but not a gourmet meal or entirely healthy if it’s all that passes your lips (or ears in this case). Stand by Me and Fade Away remind listeners of this and as a crowd that is perhaps less loutish than the performer’s usual followers, everyone moves fully into the spirit of things. Unlike the setlist from support act Primal Scream, Gallagher’s hits aren’t interspersed with brief political lectures.
The disappointment of closing with the more inferior solo tracks Greedy Soul and The River is then completely alleviated with not one but two grandstanding Oasis-fuelled encores. The first starts with Supersonic, then Cigarettes & Alcohol, Acquiesce, Roll with It and concludes, inevitably, with Live Forever. The singer’s voice – perhaps feeling the benefits of 18 months without having to do his trademark lean into a microphone – is as good as it has been in a long time.
Then, just when the good nurses and NHS administrators from most corners of the UK are heading towards the Jubilee Line, he returns with Wonderwall. These encores are the essence of why Oasis, and now Gallagher on his own, are enjoyable. He gives the people what they want. It might not be complicated or clever, but after such a dreadful year, by God, everyone’s needed it – and those in attendance more than deserved it.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Liam Gallagher’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Once here: