Liam Gallagher: KOKO, London – Live Review

Liam Gallagher
KOKO, London
9th August 2023

Liam Gallagher balances generation-defining Oasis classics with highlights from his ever-expanding solo catalogue at a special KOKO gig that’s as intimate as it is deafening.

The calls of “Liiiiiiiiiiiiam” begin long before Liam Gallagher ambles onto KOKO’s stage. The first come early in Joel Stoker’s set as he performs beautiful, intimate songs like Walls Fall and My Own War from his upcoming debut solo album, The Undertow. Joined by a drummer and keyboard player, his acoustic guitar and voice take the lead on clearly personal tracks that match the melodic prowess (but not volume and aggression) of the material he creates with The Rifles.

The calls grow louder and more frequent as the venue fills and Gallagher’s crew set up to a soundtrack including Rebel Rebel, Cum On Feel The Noize, and Won’t Get Fooled Again. By the time A Town Called Malice and I Am the Resurrection come over the PA, 1400 voices shout along at the volume of 2800. Consider it a warm up.

The calls are replaced by even louder chants of “Liam! Liam! Liam!” as his walk-on music (Oasis’ Fuckin’ In The Bushes) begins. But the fans are still only getting started. When Gallagher and his band appear, the response is just about as restrained as when Taylor Swift showed up to perform during The 1975’s gig at The O2. There’s less screaming and crying, yes, but KOKO sounds like the inside of an arena on show day.

So, as Gallagher launches into Morning Glory and the still-full pint cups go flying, he and the band are almost drowned out by the voices joining in on every single word. Somehow the decibels are higher yet during Rock ‘N Roll Star — even the signature riff played by returning guitarist Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs gets a little lost in the roar. And it’s not like the match-ready band have been downsized for a venue a little more intimate than they’re used to: at some points four guitarists, three backing singers, a drummer, bassist, keyboard player, and the frontman are crammed onto KOKO’s stage. (Somehow they even manage to squeeze in a second drum kit for Gallagher’s son Gene to play on a couple of tracks.)

Liam Gallagher: KOKO, London – Live Review

Similarly, Gallagher senior could easily half-arse it and let the punters carry the vocals, but Rkid sings his heart out throughout a show that — not unlike the new Knebworth 22 live album we’re here to celebrate — balances Oasis hits with material from his own LPs. Tonight the two ’90s classics that open the show are followed by a single from each of his solo albums: the gritty Wall Of Glass, the stomping Shockwave, and the summery Better Days. It would be impossible to expect them to be greeted with as much enthusiasm (or volume) as the ubiquitous songs that actually soundtracked a generation, but the tightly packed audience stay locked in. No bar runs, no chatting; just fewer mobile phones in the air and more singing along to choruses than verses.

An anthemic Stand By Me (one of the few times LGx steps back from the microphone to let the masses sing the rousing bits), swaying Roll It Over, and snarling Slide Away (with absolutely everybody belting out the “take me there” refrain at the end) then provide an Oasis fix as Gallagher, his band, and his audience settle into this rhythm of old and new(er). More Power, from latest studio LP C’mon You Know, adds a hint of gospel to its epic slow build; Diamond In The Dark has far more swagger than the album original; The River throws in some raging psychedelia; and the restrained Paper Crown allows the audience to sway and sing some more. Once proves to be the (current) crowning glory of the solo years. From a quiet opening (strummed acoustic guitar; keening Liam vocal) it builds and builds and builds Hey Jude-style to a rapturous singalong complete with raised arms and people up on shoulders.

But even that can’t compare with the all-out chaos that greets Cigarettes & Alcohol (more flying beer, more ear-bleeding cheering) and the inevitable Wonderwall — another rare moment where the singer leaves the chorus entirely up to the audience. (It sounds glorious enough to raise the hairs on my arms.) The magic continues into the encore: Roll With It is the summer of 1995 all over again before Live Forever fills KOKO with what seems like 10,000 voices (and features what must be one of the ballsiest rockstar poses of all time: during the guitar solo, Gallagher stands dead still, head back, tambourine between his teeth.) A trippy take on Hendrix’s Are You Experienced? closes this special show. And, as the frontman leaves the stage for the last time, the calls of “Liiiiiiiiiiiiam” return.

You can find Liam Gallagher on his website as well as FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.


Words by Nils van der Linden. You can visit his author profile for Louder Than War here. He tweets as @nilsvdlinden and his website is here.

Photos courtesy of Liam Gallagher’s team and KOKO.
Photo credit: Zekaria Al-Bostani @zek.snaps KOKO London @kokocamden.

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