Liam Gallagher doesn’t need any introduction. The younger of the two Manchester-hailing Gallagher brothers that fronted Britpop frontrunners Oasis from the mid 1990s through to the group’s famous implosion in 2009, is famous as much for music as for his bristly personality and unapologetic big mouth. And although his words between songs are few at tonight’s relatively tiny show at Camden’s 1,400-capacity Koko venue (given the younger Gallagher played to some 160,000 fans over two nights at Knebworth in June last year), the bristles are out, and they’re sharpened.
Liam Gallagher @ Koko
Tonight’s show is to promote live LP Knebworth 22, which aims to condense those two “biblical” nights at Knebworth in June 2022 into an LP. But tonight’s appearance by Gallagher is anything but biblical. Instead, it’s a straight-forward run through of tunes that plays to this crowd of superfans of both Oasis and that group’s primary vocalist.
The music kicks off with The Rifles frontman Joel Stoker playing a solo set, the Chingford man donning a flat cap and acoustic guitar, accompanied by a pianist and drummer for an outing of charming, folksy tunes that are largely lost on tonight’s audience. Chants of “Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiammm!” are hurled at him from the rowdy crowd at every opportunity while those around me at the front of the crowd busy themselves with texting and gaming on their mobile devices rather than listen to music and engage with the performance from a man who’s band themselves were built around a love of Oasis.
And then it’s time for Gallagher, the dimming of lights at Koko and the pre-recorded hum of Oasis tune F**kin’ In The Bushes playing over the PA immediately punctuated by £7.15 pints of beer (and other beverages) being slug forwards, a slice of lime parking itself neatly on the stage, as the crowd’s rowdiness is turned up to the next level. “Big round of applause for Bonehead” Gallagher demands of his audience as former Oasis guitarist Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs adds to the multitude of guitarists from the frontman’s already 9-strong band, joining them sporadically through the night for a handful of Oasis tunes after he pulled out of touring with Gallagher to undergo cancer treatment last year.
A one-two punch of Oasis classics open the Burnage-hailing singer’s set, Morning Glory and Rock ‘n’ Roll Star from the group’s seminal duo of LPs giving the fans what they want, and the star opportune moments to lean against a large silver “Rock ‘n’ Roll” sign behind him before throwing in storming 2017 solo single Wall Of Glass.
The 50-year-old rarely budges from his trademark head-tilted-up-to-microphone, arms-behind-back stance (the occasional tambourine or maracas shake thrown in of course) and proceeds each track with a call out of its title. Shockwave and Better Days from his last two LPs continue Gallagher’s solo material run, with his younger son Gene brought out to drum on a second kit placed at the front of the stage (kick drum scrawled with the word ‘spunk’) for the latter tune, before more Oasis punch is thrown back in via 1997 single Stand By Me. “Do we have any Oasis fans in this little ‘ouse?” he intimates ahead of the tune before proceeding to hand over vocal duties for the song’s choruses to his enraptured audience throughout this airing.
Liam Gallagher @ Koko
“There’s a little agro going on over there” Gallagher half asks, looking into a corner of the crowd. “Carry on, give them sh*t whoever they are” he encourages, “sh*t, sh*t, sh*t!” he riles before continuing another Oasis segment with slow-drive Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants closer Roll It Over. “So what’s been happening then in Camden?” he asks rhetorically. “Nothing” he states staring blankly at the crowd before continuing swiftly with a roof-raising outing of Definitely Maybe classic Slide Away.
2022 album C’mon You Know cuts More Power and Diamonds In The Dark slow things down, Gallagher’s crowd interaction upped between tunes: “tambourine anyone?” he teases, holding the instrument out to a sea of expectant arms before tucking it away, mumbling “cost of living crisis” to muted chuckles and stowed-away arms.
Piano-led ballad As You Were cut Paper Crown continues to keep the fans at bay before Gallagher re-introduces youngest son Gene back to the stage “say hello to them you little f**ker” he teases as Gallagher junior sinks subdued behind his kit, waving sheepishly to the Koko audience. “Throw ‘em a kiss man!” he continues before the band kick off 2019 single The River, the 22-year-old Gallagher skulking off stage for the final time at the song’s conclusion.
The night is closed out with a crescendo of Oasis hits, Cigarettes & Alcohol giving way to main set closer Wonderwall. And it’s not long before the encore of Roll With It and Live Forever is delivered.
“Nice one for coming out tonight … and all that crap and b*llocks” Gallagher offers to his audience, giving and taking away in equal measures. “It doesn’t really matter though does it, ‘cause we’d have still done it without you” he continues, “because some other f**king people would have turned up”, his audience laughing along.
The one surprise of the night comes by way of usual set-closer and Morning Glory classic Champagne Supernova being replaced with an outing of Jimi Hendrix cover Are You Experienced?
There’s no denying that Liam Gallagher was the voice of the Britpop revolution and that the years have been kind, his voice still able to belt out classic tunes along with largely pitch-perfect renditions of those from his rather strong trio of solo efforts. But, if anything, the world has moved on from needing a frontman who not only puts two fingers up to it, but to his own family and fans. Theatre perhaps, but passé nonetheless.
Live review of Liam Gallagher @ Koko by Kalpesh Patel on 9th August 2023. Photography by Zekaria Al-Bostani / @zek.snaps and Kalpesh Patel