At the Commodore Ballroom on Tuesday, November 29
Liam Gallagher is still cool, but that doesn’t make Beady Eye, his new post-Oasis project, a cool band. The group, its stage setup, songs, and sound weren’t nearly as fascinating Tuesday night as the way Gallagher radiates an overwhelming sense of celebrity.
After acrimoniously parting ways in 2009, Manchester brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher said goodbye to one of Britain’s most popular rock bands, Oasis. Topping the pops with hits like “Wonderwall”, “Champagne Supernova”, and “Supersonic”, Oasis was both controversial (the Gallagher siblings fought incessantly on- and off-stage, both physically and verbally) and catchy, that perfect match drawing fans (and haters) from every part of the spectrum. No press is bad press, right? It’s arguable that Oasis’s antics were often more popular than the music itself, even though the group managed to secure a solid place in the FM radio limelight for over a decade.
Now Gallagher is on his own and, without the bombastic lead guitar and songwriting proficiency of his older brother, he’s relying on his celebrity appeal as Beady Eye kicks off a North American tour. And, of course, the newly crafted songs he’s written with old Oasis axemen Andy Bell and Gem Archer.
The thing about Gallagher is that people still buy into his shit. He’s crass, charismatic, cartoonish, and as commanding as a dictator. These are all the things that made him appealing to the masses back when Oasis busted into the mainstream music scene in 1994, and these are the things that still make him captivating today.
The crowd at the Commodore was a mixed bag of big-chested 40-somethings in Oasis shirts, excited tiny blond girls riding on people’s shoulders, and screaming die-hard Liam fans. As Beady Eye walked on-stage, the room filled with unified chants of “Liam”, repeated over and over until the rock star appeared. Dressed in what could have easily been something from his clothing line, Pretty Green, the younger Gallagher puffed out his chest like a drunken, aggressive bar jock ready to fight, spat on the stage, and scoped out the room.
When Beady Eye launched into “Four Letter Word” (one of the catchier songs off its debut album Different Gear, Still Speeding) the crowd hollered and all eyes were on the singer as he leaned into the microphone, leg extended to the side in his signature stance, like a child tap dancer in a school musical. Between each song, Gallagher chugged bottled water, fixed his perfectly coiffed, 1960s mod haircut and edged toward the excited crowd like he was ready to pounce. “Beatles and Stones” (an obvious tribute to two great rock ’n’ roll bands he admires) and “Millionaire” followed, as his chiselled, weathered face became red and wet with sweat.
Gallagher’s ego overshadowed the show, as his lyrics felt empty and void of any meaning, concerned as they were with stereotypically metaphorical lines about love, dreams, and loss. People threw cigarettes at his stylish tennis shoes as he asked where “all the chicks” were between songs like “The Roller” and “For Anyone”. He wiped his face with a clean, white towel and sweated through his coat while introducing Beady Eye’s big hit, “Bring the Light”, by asking, “Is anyone up for any irresponsible behaviour? That’s the name of the game, I think.” Although he didn’t do much, he was mesmerizing to watch, just for the fact that he was Liam Gallagher, spitting, stomping, and snarling within arm’s reach.
The other members of Beady Eye meant nothing.
Unfortunately, the difference between Beady Eye and Oasis is that the songs are simply not there. With Beady Eye you get a warm-hearted pop twang but no heroic melody, and that disappoints.
Noel’s solo project, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, isn’t gaining any great critical acclaim, and Beady Eye, although popular enough to almost fill the Commodore on a rainy Tuesday night, is barely sailing by. Maybe what kept Oasis’s music so tight, catchy, and irritatingly badass was the fire between its two battling siblings. Even though the iconic rock ’n’ roll brothers have declared publicly their mutual hatred for each other (they are currently in a legal battle) the thing that is holding their “solo” careers back is one another. After all, there would be no Liam without Noel, and no Noel without Liam. That’s the shit part about family: sometimes the ones who drive you to insanity are the ones you need the most.