On the 30th May Liam Gallagher made his return to the stage in front of a sold-out crowd at Manchester’s Ritz as around a hundred thousand people - all eagerly tuning in to a dodgy periscope stream - implored an intrepid fan to save his battery to try to make it to the end of the show. Make no mistake, this was a momentous occasion. Liam Gallagher was back. The resurrection is on.
That night in Manchester set the tone for a month in which Liam has re-established himself as one of the UK’s true rock icons. It’s not just been about him though. That first Manchester show took on added significance taking place a week after the Manchester Arena bombing. As one of Manchester’s favourite sons, it was always going to be special seeing Liam return in his home city, but following recent events, performances of a song as pure, unifying and heartfelt as ‘Live Forever’ took on even more resonance.
Of course, all of this would be nothing without some new songs. Because that’s what Liam is. He’s a rock n roll star. It defines everything he does. Fortunately, he also retuned with a banger that blew Beady Eye into the dust. ‘Wall of Glass’ is 100% pure Liam. Fired up, cock-sure and ready to take on the world.
Despite all his creative and personal low-points over the past near decade since Oasis split up there’s always been a bizarre yet unshakable affection for Liam. Who else could command that many people interested in watching a stream of a supposedly washed up relic desperate to get back to where he was?
This time things were different. It was a more energised and focused Liam that took to the stage in Manchester that night. Playing Oasis songs from the off and singing better than he has for at least 15 years, he was giving fans what they wanted. (Ok, maybe not everything they wanted as people naturally clamour to hear more Oasis songs but don’t worry he’s got ‘Champagne Supernova’ hidden in his back pocket for later along with his tambourine.)
If there’s one moment that has defined Liam’s comeback so far then it’s his appearance at Ariana Grande’s Manchester One Love concert. This was Liam back on the biggest stage possible. Sure, he marked the occasion by wearing a ridiculous coat, but he also gauged the mood of the moment, both celebratory and melancholy by playing a tender acoustic version of ‘Live Forever’ joined by old adversary Chris Martin from Coldplay. He didn’t feel like an intruder. It felt right for him to be there and be with the people of Manchester.
Throughout the last month of festival shows and interviews there has been a constant elephant in the room though. Or maybe a potato. Despite Liam promoting his forthcoming debut album ‘As You Were’, the sub text of a potential Oasis reunion has never been far away, with the rumour mill in overdrive about Noel potentially joining him on stage. Noel never turned up, much to Liam’s chagrin as he laid into him on Twitter for not being able to attend the Manchester benefit show.
Perhaps the thing that’s really driving Liam on as he embarks on his solo career is sticking it to his brother and reminding him that he can still do it. The little digs have never gone away and he’s been at great pains to defend his right to sing Oasis songs live. He’s right. They’re songs that belong to the people. You can see that in how Manchester and, indeed, the nation adopted ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ following the Manchester attacks. With Noel absent over the last month Liam took it upon himself to perform Noel’s most famous song for the first time by himself at Glastonbury. He didn’t quite pull it off but it didn’t matter. It was a special moment that marked the end of a whirlwind month.
He hasn’t gotten everything right in his comeback. Glastonbury was a missed opportunity as he played a few too many unfamiliar new songs and too few trusty Oasis bangers, but the opening signs are hugely promising. Perhaps this summer is a dry run for a triumphant Oasis return next year? Either way Liam is back where he belongs right at the heart of the national consciousness and kicking up a storm like only he can. As You Were.