An in-performance triumph...

The cancellation of Liam Gallagher‘s Heaton Park concert was disappointing, but there was joy when he tweeted the release date of ‘MTV Unplugged’, his album recorded last summer. The date was June 12th, matching what would have been gig day.

The last two years of touring have seen Liam reinvent himself, repurpose Oasis repertoire, bring it to new diverse audiences, while making sure his recent material leaves a legacy. Two chart topping number one albums in, the prospect of a third studio project is bright.

Charismatic and personable, he’s for real, and his integrity is manifested on this sonic spectacle of a record. Having missed Oasis’s 1996 Unplugged because of illness, this performance at Hull City Hall sees the rock and roll frontman deliver some unfinished business in a certain manner, the way he wants to do it.

Stripped-back with a trio of eloquent backing singers and proficient players of 24-piece Urban Soul Orchestra, Liam joins the list of all-time greats. The display lives up to being the musical force that’s expected. A set-up where calm acoustics form complete sonic palettes, a release of vitality and conviction is facilitated. It’s compact, elegant and striking.

Settling confidently, he’s on top form. Album opener ‘Wall of Glass’ sets the vibe before an obligatory “Liam, Liam, Liam” echoes in the crowd. The immediacy of ‘Some Might Say’ featuring Bonehead, crowd pleases, “In case you didn’t hear it the first time, it’s lovely to be in Hull”, the singer assures all.

Next up is ‘Now That I’ve Found You’ about his daughter, “The lovely Molly”. The charming, upbeat vibes transcend energy, appropriately followed by an emotional rendition of ‘One Of Us’ where strings and backing vocal arrangements meet Liam’s distinct ones. In true, original form, ‘Stand By Me’ adds sparkling sonic layers.

The singer’s timely vocal premiere on ‘Sad Song’ is electrifying. Its measured melancholy works smoothly, and unless known, the probability of detecting this is a first, is low. Bonehead plays on ‘Cast No Shadow’, and ‘Once’ is followed by ‘Gone’. The rhythm guitarist is doing Unplugged ‘Twice’, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Both songs build towards a high culminating in classic finale with ‘Champagne Supernova’. “I hope it wasn’t too painful”, Liam notes rhetorically.

The transparency of the singer’s ambition to make up for last time reaches beyond the call of duty. Astonishing, accomplished, as close to real as it gets, it’s a triumph to be revered.

8/10

Words: Susan Hansen

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