Liam Gallagher – Utilita Arena, Sheffield, June 1

The show begins with a huge digital clock literally rolling back the years from 2024, but Oasis gigs were never like this when their era-defining debut came out 30 years ago. A spectacular stage set recreates the album cover at arena size, complete with giant floating globe, flamingoes and the portrait of Burt Bacharach.

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Before showtime, 12,500 eager fans yell along as The Stone Roses’ “I Am The Resurrection” blares from the PA at tinnitus-inducing volume. When the clock finally reaches 1994 and Liam Gallagher launches into album opener “Rock ’n’ Roll Star”, the place erupts to such a degree that it’s a wonder the roof doesn’t levitate above the building.

That song has kicked off Gallagher’s solo shows for years, though several Definitely Maybe numbers are relatively under-heard; a nine-piece band (including Oasis co-founder and guitarist Bonehead) make them all sound as fresh as a daisy. “Columbia” is darker and more brooding than on record. “Shakermaker” – performed for the first time in years – epitomises the Beatles-meets-Sex Pistols blueprint that influenced generations of guitar bands.

Gallagher is now 51, but with his legs apart, head tilted back to suit a microphone purposely set four inches too high, he still looks every inch the rock ’n’ roll star – and a healthy pre-tour lifestyle has done wonders for his voice. It’s also a thrill to hear him so emotionally engaged. He puts everything into these songs, delivering “Bring It On Down”‘s brilliant line “you’re the outcast, you’re the underclass, but you don’t care ‘cos you’re living fast” with unadulterated venom.

The singer made it clear before the tour that he wouldn’t be performing the album in order because that would mean playing “Live Forever” three songs in, but the reshuffled set list also contains surprises. There are all manner of B-sides and deep cuts from 1994, when the songs were tumbling out of his now-estranged brother Noel. “Cloudburst” and “I Will Believe” haven’t been performed for 30 years. Most unexpectedly, Liam dedicates “Half A World Away” – a song Noel always sang – to “my little brother”. It was always among Oasis’s loveliest tunes, and this strings-drenched rendition – with the audience singing every word and holding up their phones – is a poignant highlight.

“Fade Away” has a gem of a chorus – “while we’re living, the dreams we have as children fade away” – and is one of a group of songs referencing family, childhood or nostalgia. Gallagher has clearly put a lot of thought into the selections and their presentation. Another curveball, “Lock All The Doors” – which dates from the early Oasis years but wasn’t completed until Noel recorded it for the 2015 High Flying Birds album Chasing Yesterday – is possibly another subtle olive branch, while the next two songs have themes of freedom and escape. “(It’s Good) To Be Free” sounds like a Mancunian Crazy Horse while the strings turn “Whatever” into an orchestrated celebration (“I’m free to be whatever I choose”).

Arms raise and voices swell for “Cigarettes And Alcohol” and a terrific home straight of “Supersonic”, “Slide Away” and the immortal “Live Forever”, during which the cameras catch a glorious close up of Gallagher clutching his tambourine between his teeth. Some of the crowd have left the building assuming the show’s over when the singer suddenly returns wearing a bucket hat for The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”, which always ended Oasis shows back in the day. “It’s been too fucking long!” yells Gallagher, as the song’s psychedelic odyssey and accompanying images of late icons and influences from Elvis Presley to Bob Marley put the cherry on the cake of a barnstorming show.

SET LIST
Rock ’n’ Roll Star
Columbia
Shakermaker
Up In The Sky
Digsy’s Dinner
Bring it On Down
Cloudburst
I Will Believe
Half The World Away
D’Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman
Fade Away
Lock All The Doors
(It’s Good) To Be Free
Whatever
Cigarettes & Alcohol
Married With Children
————–
Supersonic
Slide Away
Live Forever
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I Am The Walrus

#Liam #Gallagher #Utilita #Arena #Sheffield #June

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