It seems the tide is turning. The public are loving Liam. Well, warming to him. For a man who couldn’t get arrested in the press and in public opinion between about 1997 and 2016, (but frequently did in real life) it’s a quite remarkable U-turn.
I put his fall from grace at autumn 1997, when he quite brilliantly flicked ash on Mick Jagger’s head, then went on a drunken rampage after the Q Awards, ending up being stopped on Oxford Street early next morning by police believing he was a tramp. It was round about the time he and Noel gatecrashed Steve Lamacq’s evening Radio 1 show, and proceeded to audibly take drugs, drop a few c-bombs, and offer all of rock aristocracy out for a fight on Primrose Hill. When the press rounded on Oasis after Be Here Now, presumably because of his increasingly thuggish behaviour, and the fact that, despite most publications awarding the album five-star reviews, the tide was turning in British music; releases from Spiritualized, The Verve, Radiohead, Super Furry Animals and Primal Scream pointed to more adventurous sonic templates, sounding the death knell for that biggest of albatrosses, Britpop.
Despite their ever-growing rabid hardcore fan base, the fashionistas moved on, as they were no longer media darlings, painted as the last remnants of a boorish lad culture which engulfed the 90s, which gave way to more introspective and more fashionable, pre-millennial neuroses in music circles.
All we read about Liam Gallagher from then on was stinging criticism, even though a few years previously the same people were cheering him on for exactly the same antics. From then on, most Oasis releases were met with shrugs of indifference. Yet somehow, Noel’s stock soared, as he charmed the press with his witty, elder-statesman observations. Noel became a media luvvie whilst Liam was lost in tabloid-hell wilderness, the only words ever written about him were denouncing his loutishness, and his name was invariably preceded by the words ‘thug’, ‘hooligan’ or ‘yob,’ along with hilarious punnage such as ‘wonder-brawl.’
It never made any sense to me as, if anything, Noel could sometimes comes across as a little mean-spirited in interviews, his wit and eloquence masking his sneering observations. Whereas Liam would always give hilarious quotes, his unique way of phrasing his thoughts and his nonsensical ramblings sometimes being misunderstood and portrayed as thickness. Most people close to the band have noted that Liam is a one-off. Sensitive, funny, unconventionally intelligent with a huge heart. That he appeared not to have a filter for his rants just added to his charm for me. He was being real, where Noel’s humour seemed more calculated.
Throughout the 00s, their output was less impressive, but there remains probably two albums worth of classics that matched those of their early pomp. Albums weren’t as cohesive as the first three, but there exists a lot of stellar material. They were no longer The Biggest Band in the World™ musically, but they still gave fantastic interviews and were still larger than life in the attitude sense. To their fans, they were still gods, but to the casual observers in the mainstream, they were becoming increasingly irrelevant. And Liam took more flak than anyone in this reconsideration. To the point that the blame lay firmly at his door when they eventually split.
You’d think people would be rejoicing from the rooftops when they imploded amid a dressing-room brawl in which the unspeakable was apparently uttered. Oasis were a dirty word throughout their latter-day period. It became a musical faux pas to declare anything but scorn for them. But, no, Liam caused the break-up of possibly the best band to come from these shores since The Beatles. It was ridiculous. I thought they were supposed to be ‘shite’ but here people were mourning the loss of a British institution as if they hadn’t been bullying people on online music forums for liking them for years. I understand the criticisms, but when a band bookmarks your life, it’s hard to be objective.
Noel Gallagher is a legend, let’s get that out of the way, but, to me, Liam has always been the bigger legend. It’s true that Noel wrote the songs, but Liam made them classics. That voice could move mountains. And his charisma and attitude are what drove Oasis. Despite Noel’s protestations that it was ‘all about the music,’ it most definitely wasn’t. It was the whole package, and I’d argue that that was directly down to Liam. The same positives that were levelled at him as criticisms in the later years.
I used to have a friend, and we’d sit at my house watching Oasis videos recorded off the telly for hours, fast-forwarding all the Noel bits. Liam was the selling point totally. I stand by our assertion at the time: Can you imagine if Liam had sung Don’t Look Back in Anger??? How much bigger it would have sounded? I’ve never heard anyone else say that. But we got our wish at Glastonbury this year when he did. And we were right. That voice again. Rendering Noel’s attempt almost obsolete. Maybe that’s a little unkind. Noel does a great job, but it’s not Liam. After Be Here Now, Noel took lead vocal on more songs, and how we groaned. Two songs. Then three songs on albums. When you’ve got the finest vocalist since Ian McCulloch in your ranks, it either seems a terrible waste, or plain pig-headedness from the elder brother. Stand-alone single Lord Don’t Slow Me Down was a semi-decent bluesy effort fronted by Noel. I’ve heard the version sung by Liam and it lifts it into the realm of the fucking incendiary. It’s that simple. But the middle-child syndrome won the day, and Liam took more of a back seat on albums in the 00s. It’s quite simply unfathomable. Wasted opportunity after wasted opportunity as Noel was obviously plotting life away from the group confines and quite possibly resenting his little brother, whose nappies he’d changed, taking centre-stage and making Oasis soar.
Beady Eye followed, and we willed it to be amazing. Some of it was. The second album, in particular having some great moments. But it was Noel’s solo career that received all the plaudits. Noel is a better singer technically, but his voice lacks the rawness and snarling passion of Liam at his best. The flaws are human, and if I give a fuck about technically proficient, I’ll listen to Leona Lewis. Beady Eye’s songs weren’t the best vehicle for Liam’s raw talent. The circling vipers were willing him to fail. And when they disbanded, it was met with a collective shrug.
Had we seen the last of a twentieth-century icon?
Had we fuck!
Liam’s recent charm offensive seems to have paid massive dividends. The previously scornful press have made another complete U-turn, and while the fickleness irks me, it fills me with happiness that he’s getting his due respect. Again, it’s absurd in its nature, public opinion having reached an all-time low on the youngest Gallagher, it’s not lost on me that the build-em-up-knock-em-down-then-decide-they’re- ok-after-all nature of the media and the general public’s acceptance of this is nothing but pure fucking whimsy, but the boy has come full circle and I’m not about to question it. Even though that is exactly what I’m doing here.
I’m happy that Liam fans don’t feel the need to hide anymore in fear of ridicule. I’ll always love Noel, but it feels like we’ve-been forced to pick sides like in that idiotic summer of ’95 where we had to choose between Blur and Oasis even though we loved both. Egos and the media forced that choice upon us. It’s similar here. Whose team are we on? The man who tweets hilariously surreal missives about his brother, denouncing him as a potato, or the one who has become the establishment? We got into Oasis because they were dangerously anti-establishment. The choice for me is clear. I’ll desert neither, but I’ll always favour Liam. He was the reason Oasis were so appealing in the first place.
Since Liam’s reemergence this year, he has reached almost Corbyn-like levels of underdog achievement. He is still the same Liam Gallagher, but he seems different. He looks and sounds amazing. He’s been hilarious in the plentiful interviews we’ve been treated to. The Noisey interview for me was simply beautiful. See here. He waxed lyrical about Steve Coogan, John McEnroe, Frankie Dettori and Diego Maradona, and he was engaging as fuck. You could almost smell the former doubters warming to him. Brace yourselves, we’re undergoing a collective reassessment, as a Sean Bean meme undoubtedly asserts. He’s been charming, human, compassionate and real. Just as he’s always been, but it’s been greeted with a different attitude. He’s done the unthinkable: made the public fall in love with him again.
That it’s come at a time when I’ve inexplicably fallen out of love with The Stone Roses, mostly due to external irritants, it couldn’t come at a better time. One set of heroes disappear into oblivion, and another appears over the horizon. Wearing an orange parka. His appearance and involvement in the Arianna Grande-organised benefit concert for the Manchester victims of an ISIS-attributed bombing was undoubtedly the turning point. It also fills me with pride that even my six-year-old daughter can’t get enough of watching his rendition of Live Forever, (mainly because she believes he copied my orange jacket). Young minds have no cynicism, the love is real there. (Her name is Lyla).
2017 then. Liam Gallagher is the unlikely renaissance man. He’s played a blinder. I’ve never seen so many people get behind him. Not since 1996 anyway. Social media is awash with shares, people no longer afraid of being Pro-LG. Triumphant gigs across Europe being viewed in their millions on YouTube. Excitement bordering on fever-pitch as we await his solo album. Great reviews for the first two official releases.
I’ve spent hours watching him on YouTube, his recent live performances have been nothing short of mesmerising. It’s the Second Coming, but instead of trading solely on former glories, he’s got a batch of new songs under his belt that sound massive. Oasis massive, but pure Liam. The first gig at the Manchester O2 was a celebratory affair. It looked like a rabid rave in there as he was welcomed back as a conquering hero. He’s lost none of the swagger of old. He’s older, wiser, and has grown into middle age with all the insouciant cool that only he can manage. He’s got a point to prove. He’s at the last-chance saloon, and he knows it. He gives it his all like a man with nothing to lose. A caged gladiator. A tiger prowling around the stage with menace and total confidence. It’s reminiscent of the first time I laid eyes on Oasis in the live arena. The day I never looked back. He’s a man on a mission at 44 years old, just as hungry as when he was 21 years old. It’s amazing.
Noel remains silent and supports U2. Mo Farah mistakes him for Liam. That’s got to sting.
Liam responds in the most Liam way possible.
Our man has come home. And he’s done it on his own terms. As always. He’s not watered down his act, he’s just been real.
Same as it ever was.
I won’t question it. The pendulum can swing the other way just as fast. I will obviously spend a lot of time dissecting how and why it’s happened as it’s always been clear to me.
But I ‘ll spare you that now. That’s between me and me.
Just rejoice he’s gonna be the one that saves us….
As you were. MR x