Hammersmith Apollo, London
21st November 2013
After releasing one of most hotly-awaited albums of the year – BE – Beady Eye took to the road to showcase it.
Whispers have been circulating around publishers, journalists and fans that dear old Liam is mellowing with age. He’s endorsed Justin Bieber, identified One Direction as “Beady Eye’s biggest competition” and reportedly attended the Chelsea Flower Show but following recent press attention, the Liam Gallagher we see tonight is something very different.
Cutting an agitated profile in the glare of the Apollo’s lights, Liam looks anything but serene. Walking on stage in a classic fur-adorned parka this is the Liam of Oasis fans’ dreams. His swagger is more intense and his vocal and aggression much rawer than the one that graced the Manchester Ritz in June.
Ditching the nasal, Lennon-esque phrasing, Liam is reverting back to his alcohol-soaked, coarse vocals that remain rooted in Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants. As Flick Of The Finger swells grandiosely in the capacity-filled Hammersmith Apollo, Beady Eye are as tight as one unit can get and with a now mended and newly bearded Gem Archer back on guitar, this is the strongest they’ve looked and sounded in a while.
Snarling and swearing at the microphone, Liam’s eyes rove around the venue daring anyone to utter one heckle or cause a fuss. Of course the crowd do nothing of the sort. Live Forever is received with groans of pure pleasure but hits off current album BE are acknowledged with just as much vigour. Face The Crowd and Shine A Light leave the sardine-packed audience with beads of sweat trickling down their faces as they stare in increased adulation and respect for Gallagher Jr.
As he launches into an astonishing vocal attack on Cigarettes and Alcohol it’s hard not to get stirred into a glorious sense of well-being. For Beady Eye fans last year, no one thought Liam would ditch the pride and include the songs that spawned a generation. Tonight as two of Definitely Maybe’s finest garnish the setlist, spirits are on a high.
It’s hard to see what direction Liam and Beady Eye are going to take next. Talk has been rife of a supposed Oasis Glasto performance next year but who can really take any guess when it comes to the Gallagher brothers and their seemingly torn relationship? As fans desperately grapple to get their icon’s attention, Liam stands at the edge of the stage, soaking it all in. It’s obvious he still craves for Oasis and tonight was proof that there is still a huge taste for the bigger stage and the adoring crowds.
The fact that Don’t Brother Me isn’t included in the setlist could say a lot about how Liam is feeling towards Noel; the song would have jarred dissonantly alongside the rebel-rousing tracks on show tonight and maybe it isn’t time for Liam to show that sensitive side just yet, not when he seems so defensive.
Closing with a sensational version of Gimme Shelter and applauding the audience as he leaves, Liam seems neither pissed off nor pleased. He just seems discontented. Forget the bad press because Liam Gallagher is still very much intact – mind-blowing stage presence, distinguishingly ample vocals and an attitude and style that will never fade.
All words by Harley Cassidy. You can read more from Harley on Louder Than War here.