2017 was the year that Liam Gallagher stopped looking back in anger, and started to eye the future once more. Few could deny the pleasure in seeing his continued re-emergence to the limelight, or say that it hasn’t been one of the best stories of a year in which the British music scene has at times bathed in blandness. Ubiquitous (and at times hilarious) online with his brother-baiting tweets, he finally got around to releasing his first decent post-Oasis album in As You Were and has followed it up with a nationwide tour which has seen the rock ’n’ roll star back where he belongs – on the big stages in front of an adoring crowd.
With two up-and-coming acts chosen for support, he has shown a good eye for the future. First up were Trampolene, whose performance felt a little flat and surprisingly low-key (possibly due to frontman Jack Jones’ struggling voice). However, ‘Beautiful Pain’ and ‘Storm Heaven’ lifted the mood – especially in the latter’s Verve-esque psych-freak-out at the end. There is a lot to like about Trampolene, and you can’t help but admire a band who perform poetry at a show in front of a load of boozed-up Oasis fans (“We’re usually bottled off by now” joked Jones), but they still feel like a work-in-progress live. Following them, Rat Boy brought the party atmosphere with ‘Revolution’ and ‘Fake ID’ in particular landing well. Both bands were on a hiding to nothing and did well to break through to a boozy crowd waiting for their idol to appear. As the PA played classic Stone Roses and The Jam tracks, the atmosphere was electrifying in the Centre.
As ‘Fuckin’ In The Bushes’ rolled around the venue signalling Gallagher’s arrival on stage, the sheer volume of ridiculously-overpriced beer flying through the air would have been enough to keep most bars in stock for weeks. What little there was left in cups soon exited as, of course, he opened with ’Rock ’n’ Roll Star’ – a track that has lost none of its potency in the 23 years since Definitely Maybe exploded into the world. It is still the ideal that Gallagher lives by, as he bowed down to a huge ‘Rock ’n’ Roll’ sign on-stage. He still possesses the sheer magnetism of old, staring intently into the crowd as he sized up whether they were enjoying themselves enough for him, but with no big brother to irritate him there was a zen-like air of calmness too. As football chants of “Liam! Liam!” erupted around the room in between each song, it was very much a case of the returning hero.
Mixing up As You Were tracks with Oasis classics, there was a great flow to the night. Those newer songs already feel like indie-rock anthems, ‘Greedy Soul’ and ‘Wall Of Glass’ receiving a huge response before ‘Paper Crown’ stirred the spirits in the manner perfected by his former group. It was these communal moments that made Oasis such a loved and much-missed band, as the audience bellowed every lyric back with one arm around their best mate and the other holding a beer high in the air. Tonight was a restoration of that feeling. Of course, the biggest reactions were for the older classics. Dedicating ‘Some Might Say’ to “The parka monkeys”, sandwiched in-between old B-side ‘Rockin’ Chair’ and the beloved ‘Slide Away’, the night soared to another level altogether.
Looking and acting like a boxer now permanently back up from the ropes, Gallagher performed the latter half of the set with his hood up covering his eyes. There was no sign of scissors, potato peelers or any other embellishment – just solid gold rock ‘n’ roll tunes. While Noel may (self-proclaim) himself to have been the brains of Oasis, Liam is the heart and soul. His voice still carries the same power after all these years, though as he moved into a crowd-pleasing finale there were times where he didn’t even need to try as the audience sang every word as if their lives depended on it. ‘Supersonic’, ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’, ‘Live Forever’ followed, as did ’Wonderwall’. These aren’t just songs, but for a certain generation they are moments that symbolise a youth frozen forever in time – deliciously thawed out and re-awoken on nights like this. With no sign (or need) for an Oasis reunion, this felt like the next best thing. Speaking on Twitter later, Gallagher thanked the crowd for bringing the noise saying “Brighton, you still got it”. And you our kid, and you.