Liam Gallagher has been dominating the news, and rightly so, every word that comes from his mouth is absolute gold. With that buzz in mind we joined the marching army of Pretty Green and freshly trimmed fringes as they move in waves from Birmingham New Street to the crimson clad Arena Birmingham (a fitting colour for any LG show).
You know with a headline act such as Liam that the support acts are going to have a voice just as frank, and that belief isn’t wrong. As Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll fades from the speakers an aching anticipation runs through the crowd ready for the first act, Trampolene.
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Dubbed “Libertines tour poet”, Lead singer Jack Jones’ spoken word and debut album opener Artwork of Youth begins to echo around the arena. The crude tale of a corrupted youth leaves people jeering and the security looking at each other with gleaming eyes, you know already by the sharp tongue seemingly stabbing its way down your ear canal with its vulgar tip that they’re going to be a corker. Tracks like You Do Nothing For Me are guaranteed club floor fillers; the deep driving drums will leave you in a possessed state, eyes fixated on Jack as he spins around the stage lining the tune with his screeching guitar lines, at one point getting lost within his own tunes and booting equipment into the pit with one clean swirl. Trampolene seem comfortable sitting on that huge stage, in complete juxtaposition to their usual packed out basements; that see them surfing on a sea of sweat, we sure hope to see them in this position a little more often.
With an equally well earnt spot on this stage comes Rat Boy. These dreamy indie kids have been spitting hip hop inspired bars over shoe shuffling beats for a few years now; all the way from your mate’s kitchen they’ve grooved their way through multiple stages and have wound up performing on this colossal level. With a very en vogue style I feel although sometimes their actual tracks get a little overlooked. They look pretty and they sound it too. A standout track from their set has to be Move which sees Jordan Cardy bouncing his way across the stage as he jaunts the crowd into that groove that makes your legs move. Their ability to mix hip hop with indie has been likened to the early do it yourself grit of Jamie T, however, Rat Boy brings an entirely new feel to it all a decade on. Big fills and even bigger bridges sure are bringing this crowd to boiling point as some of the fans begin to surf their way over the barrier and into the arms of security officials who are left constantly lurching over the face of the front.
It’s nearly time for the man of the night, the hypeman himself, Mr Gallagher. After a small interval and pretty much no build up the lights drop suddenly and Fuckin’ in The Bushes blasts through the speakers as Liam bounds onto the stage triumphantly with his arms in the air, this is met with the roars of 15,000 voices welcoming him to the nation’s second city. The swarms of eager fans range from old Oasis heads right down to younger new Liam advocates, still the room erupts once again as we fade straight into Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, an undisputed classic from Oasis’ seven times platinum debut Definitely Maybe. Opening with this track and towering over the crowd with a sense of absolute prowess it’s lyrics resonate with you as we are now reassured that Liam is a rock ‘n’ roll star, with three years away from the stage he’s come back and shown us why he is the absolute legend that he is. Concreting himself in the centre of the stage where he belongs, where we need him. He may still be packing his equipment into boxes labelled Beady Eye, but he sure is propelling himself forwards. Straight from one classic banger into the next it’s time for Morning Glory as blue smoke streams through the crowd. Towards the end of the track Liam says “At least you got the colour right, keep that red shite out of here” to a fan before a City flag is thrown straight into his arms as he kisses it gesturing towards the crowd.
The set is an even split between an Oasis of dreams and a new reinvigorated Liam. The upbeat jangly country-esque tune of Wall of Glass blended with the uniquely rough melodies Liam produces match perfectly together as a blinding light leaves him etched into the stage as a power emanating silhouette. The breakdown for this infectiously catchy tune will leave you weak at the knees as you thrash back and forth although your life depends on it. Other tracks such as For What It’s Worth are sung with a deep sorrow and slight anger in his eyes, almost although his mind is wandering elsewhere, somewhere vulnerable and filled with emotions so thick that only they can penetrate the thick guarded walls of this arena that’re much like Liam’s skin.
This feeling is echoed when Rocking Chair is played as when Liam sings the words “when you’re not there” he gestures over to Noel’s spot with a stiff finger although the tune is a poignant reminder of broken relations. The blue smoke continues to filter through the crowd as a strike of red burns away in the centre, blending in with the rest and uniting.
Following Supersonic Liam says with an enigmatic smile, “Now this is going to be our last song, goodnight Birmingham” before Be Here Now begins to chime in almost as his lips seal. Have you ever seen 15,000 people all bouncing about, creating a wave of bodies ripple throughout the room? Imagine that but with every lyric being belted back towards the stage with arms in the air, 15,000 people giving themselves away to Liam, bearing their heart on their sleeve. You know it wasn’t the end, they knew it wasn’t the end, he knew it wasn’t either. After a flash of the lights he’s back for what seems now the final time. Tying his hoodie tight resembling rocky he bursts at the mic “We’ve got more, this is Cigarettes & Alcohol”. If any other time seemed fitting to break the rules this is it, as half-filled pints ping their way through the air like darts; the smell of smoke and biftas fill the air and the guitar begins to roll. The way Liam’s tongue flips as he pronounces each word in his own familiar tone sends shockwaves through the room. “Does anybody even like that shit song Wonderwall?” he asks as a mixed review is reported back. “I guess we’ll have to live forever then.” He continues, and off he goes. This time feeling louder than before, the whole show has been amplified by three as each syllable sends a shiver down your spine. Tingling and teeming with energy Liam points at the crowd with that stifling finger before digging it deep into his heart “You and I are gonna live forever”.
Now it really is time to take a bow, the lights drop and Liam’s signature “As You Were” illuminates the back drop. People gently begin to filter out. Being the windup merchant he is Liam always has to have the last word, and at that he miraculously reappears. “I guess we’ll play that shit one then”. Whether you’re passing through a festival or local park in the summer you’re bound to hear one dickhead with an acoustic guitar blasting this guilty pleasure out in front of their friends. This scene is usually met with a feeling of disgust, but if there’s anyone who can make it golden it has to be Liam Gallagher himself. Lighters in the air, there’s one last serenade in store for those who haven’t already left. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
“Have a lovely Christmas, beware of dickheads” declares the nations favourite agony aunt as the curtains come to a close for the final time. All in all, Liam hasn’t lost it, he never had, he’s just been a little absent. However, he’s back now and he doesn’t need us, but we sure need him. He’s only got to give, this eighteen track tirade of brilliance from start to finish will leave you buzzing for weeks to come. That was Liam Gallagher, as you were.