Live Report: Liam Gallagher - Down By The River Thames

Live Report: Liam Gallagher - Down By The River Thames

A polished, but instinctive, raw affair...

When Liam Gallagher came up with the idea of playing a live gig on a floating barge, on the River Thames, he might not have imagined how strong the end result was going to be. But the former Oasis frontman understood the need for his gigs to return, and he was keen to give everyone a proper treat.

Sometimes, having the courage to do things differently is what’s required to invent. This gig spectacle is a contender in the virtual show category. Even though it is pre-recorded, it feels ‘live’ and absorbing in vibe.

The technology enables a mesmerising view of the river and landmark sights, from the Thames Barrier all the way to the House of Commons, as the rare experience unfolds, the distinctiveness of the overall idea becomes apparent.

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Liam’s way of thinking big but keeping things real is reflected. Implemented with precision and force, it makes for a high-end visual and sonic experience. The setlist of sixteen songs allows time to delve deep and aim high, and this is precisely what happens.

With a healthy sounding voice and a band on top form, everyone’s free to deliver belter after belter. With fewer Oasis songs and more recent material, this show also marks a growing confidence in his artist brand.

The gorgeous choice of setting depicts the late afternoon in to evening, guaranteeing the view of aesthetic scenery. Thoughtfully opening the show with ‘Hello’ before the intensity and stomping sound of ‘Wall of Glass, ‘Halo’ and ‘Shockwave’ steady the barge.

“This is to the lovely people on the earth,” the singer declares, as he lets ‘Columbia’ ease the flow of the set. The guitars sound more intense when played out on the water, the combination of warm, golden lights and guitars creates a serene vibe. The White Album, Beatles-like ‘Why Me? Why Not.’ offers a tranquil, zen-like few minutes before the strut of ‘Greedy Soul’ transforms the atmosphere.

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“Don’t believe celebrities/the money-suckin’ MPs/the device in your hands, imitation beauty.” The poignant lyrics of ‘The River’ never fail in relevance or impact, while they address what’s important. Creating a salient moment, Gene Gallagher, Liam’s son, has joined on drums. The sight of Tower Bridge offers a supreme display on ‘Once’, just before the buoyant ‘Morning Glory’ is heard, blaring out at full, intense volume.

Iconic and astute, Oasis’ ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ is the perfect opportunity, as the singer decides to address Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Prime Minister Boris Johnson. As he stands there with the maracas, his message is delivered in the tone of a snarl “That’s for you f*cking Rishi, and f*cking Doris,”. His instinct to point at the camera packs a real punch.

Approaching London Eye at the same time as the performance of ‘Headshrinker’ seems timely. It only makes sense to delve further into other Oasis material prior to ‘Supersonic’. New lyrical meaning is applied to ‘Champagne Supernova’ “Where were you while we were getting high,” when the singer contributes a “Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful”. The word beautiful applies to ‘All You’re Dreaming Of’. Closing the set, the new song comes with a dreamy and festive vibe.

A polished, but instinctive, raw affair, the show represents a complete one-off based on a thought-provokingly, clever idea. Executed with surprise and skill, it is one for the history books. Just what the concert doctor ordered, this much-needed music ‘drug’ addresses a year largely written off in live music terms. Having now provided his fans with a fresh, glorious boost, there is a togetherness and positive vibes in anticipation of what hopefully is going to be a celestial new year.

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Words: Susan Hansen

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