Liam Gallagher is nothing if not full of surprises.
The Oasis icon has already confirmed a full London event this week, launching his new documentary As It Was – the tale of his solo comeback – at Alexandra Palace, a huge venue to the North of the capital dubbed ‘the people’s palace’.
Yet only 24 hours before this he’s gone and launched something different, something new. Taking control of Hackney Round Chapel – a beautifully designed 19th century church in East London – he’s linking with adidas for a one off show, perhaps his smallest, most intimate date in London since ‘Supersonic’ exploded out of the traps in 1994.
With the venue full to bursting a good hour or so before stage time, sweat lifts up towards the ceiling, the band’s kit spread out onstage in front of the colossal church organ.It’s a peculiar sight – Liam Gallagher’s tell-tale Manchester City paraphernalia spread out on a platform that recently hosted a brass band meets ceilidh hoedown.
When he finally comes swaggering out onstage, full of poise and menace, the crowd rush towards the front to be greeted with a venomous, leering, lurching ‘Rock N Roll Star’. An old Oasis war-horse and a key component of his live set, it’s a defiant move, with Liam Gallagher laying claim to the band’s legacy and his position as, well, a Rock N Roll Star.
‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory’ feels colossal, the building struggling to contain the sheer stadium-size energy and ego of what’s happening onstage. Solo single ‘Wall Of Glass’ disrupts the nostalgia show, with Liam finding that balance between utter nonchalance and complete focus onstage.
It’s a nonchalance that almost gets the better of him during ‘Greedy Soul’. Swinging his ever-present maracas at the mic he knocks it completely out of its standing, landing with the audible thud on the floor. He doesn’t care. Glancing stage-left, a crew member scurries onstage to sort it out, while the singer prowls out towards the audience, lost in oblivion, battling internal wars.
With the volume seemingly set towards the red, the ear-bleeding sound imbues each song with an air of violence. It’s something that even infiltrates the slow tunes – ‘For What It’s Worth’ feels like Liam vs. The World, his truth vs. the colossal weight of judgement and expectation that sits on his shoulders.
New single ‘Shockwave’ gains its much-anticipated first appearance, and it slots effortlessly into the set. There’s a bounce, a swagger that recalls those early Oasis singles, while it’s snappy chorus – and superb, crowd-enhanced ‘Hey!’ – is incredibly infectious, virtually tailor-made to be smothered across radio sets throughout the land.
Stylistically it nabs a T-Rex riff, a kind of caveman stomp that bleeds into a pretty Beatles-esque breakdown. It’s hardly re-inventing the wheel, but when Liam’s in the driving seat, who cares? It’s bold and effective, as subtle as a battering ram.
With the crowd in the palm of his hand Liam Gallagher introduces ‘Columbia’, commenting: “Thank fuck it’s a slow one…” The early Oasis classic feels vital and new, his voice urgent in a way it simply never was during the band’s final years. Screaming himself hoarse, the band’s punk sound carries an incredible weight, the pulse emanating around the historic church.
Speaking to the crowd in blunt yet cryptic statements, Liam reveals that he’s working with adidas on a collaborative trainer, before the band leap into eternal Oasis classic ‘Some Might Say’. The band’s first number one single, it transforms the Round Chapel into a mesh of limbs, circle pits breaking out on the floor, the sweltering temperature pushed ever-higher.
Liam can’t quite resist a grin. “You know what you’ve been since I’ve been away? Bored out of your fucking minds!”
Beady Eye’s ‘Soul Love’ is a rare concession to that often under-rated if infuriatingly inconsistent project, before Liam leads the band into a stomping, preening version of ‘Lyla’. It’s a bold performance, his intense focus pushing the set forwards. Swaggering into a riotous ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’, the band then leave the stage as Liam prowls from side to side, adoring and admonishing the crowd’s infatuation.
Working only with keyboard and cello, he finishes with a stripped down version of ‘Champagne Supernova’, it’s elegiac quality uncovered a new vein of the bittersweet in Oasis’ songwriting.
And that’s it. There’s no encore, no final farewell. With Liam Gallagher launching new documentary As It Was he no doubt needs to protect his voice, but this short, electrifying set provides points to score, and points to prove.
Still the underdog, each set feels like a battle, like a boxer going into the ring. It’s a charged, intense atmosphere, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. As the man himself points out, life without Liam Gallagher would be “fucking boring…”
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Rock N Roll Star
(What's The Story) Morning Glory
Wall Of Glass
For What It's Worth
Some MIght Say
Cigarettes & Alcohol
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