As we were.
As we are.
The only constant is Liam.
The McKittrick Hotel plays host to him and here he is stalking the stage dressed all in black like a Mancunian Johnny Cash.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” sounds as violent, vital and vigorous now as it did the first time I heard it. Liam spitting the words like they may be his last. Like a certain other Manc his voice is resolutely Northern. No American affectation. He’s the people’s frontman. He’s one of us and we love him for it.
This is rock and roll.
When that riff at the start of “Morning Glory” hits it hits you hard. I feel a swell of emotion. I don’t know what it is…joy, nostalgia, sentimentality? Could be all of them. It’s proof of Noels ability to write music that may seem…simple, but that has the ability to reach out to people and lift their spirits.
People have tried to score points against Liam about the fact that he hasn’t written these songs but when you hear him sing them you realise that they are his songs as much as they are Noels. Their success is rooted in the marriage of Noels craft and Liams spirit.
It’s difficult to work out why Beady Eye didn’t ever work. Great musicians. Liams voice. A ready made support base. Yet it never took off. What’s obvious when you hear “Wall of Glass” is that it wasn’t Liam who was the problem but the song writing. With songs this could and a voice this strong he couldn’t fail. It’s a tremendous song. That extended “ssssss” at the end of glass sounds both cool and terrifying at the same time.
My favourite moment on “As You Were” is “Greedy Soul” and here it is. “It’s a long way down…when you’re the wrong way round” is a lyric good enough to make the dead dance. I doubt anyone could sing it the way Liam does. At this point in proceedings you are struck by just how good this band are too…they seem to fit him in a way that the Beady boys never did. Maybe he needed this…a clean break from his past to build his own future.
I wonder if there is another frontman in music history who has done so little on stage and yet totally dominated the space? “Bold” is a beautiful song…tender…Liam is just, well, there and yet he’s everywhere. It’s the definition of charisma.
At the time of its release I saw “Be Here Now” as evidence of the dangers of cocaine. The album seemed bloated and over-produced. It was heavy. Listening to it now it’s clear that that was not fair or accurate. It may be a bit over-produced yes…but it’s not bloated, it’s ambitious and grand. Hearing Liam roar through “D’You Know What I Mean?” confirms that. Even remotely the song fills me, the room and sitting in and is hammering on the walls trying to reach further.
It’s a mark of how great the British music scene was in the nineties that the bands were able to release songs as b-sides and album tracks that were better than hit records from bands in the previous decade. “Slide Away” would be the best song that U2 ever recorded and yet, for Oasis, it was just a song.
“I Get By” is a flat out punk attitude, rock ‘n’ roll swagger, blues thump of a song. It’s great. Again you just don’t see how it could work without Liam. He’s the heart and soul of every song he sings. “You Better Run” is in a similar vein, it’s got a thud and a thump that rattles your bones.
There is a very definite aroma of a certain Liverpudlian boy band to “Universal Gleam”. It has that dreamy, slightly psychedelic feel of the later songs from them and given Liams love of middle-class poseur John Lennon it’s not too surprising that something like this worked it’s way onto “As You Were”. The funny thing is that every song from them that I hate would be made listenable if Liam were singing them.
“Be Here Now” seems an unlikely and unusual choice from the Oasis back catalogue but it sounds good here. I think a lot of the songs from that album probably work in a live setting in a way that they didn’t on record.
People like to have a go at this song…well, a certain type of person. The people who hate the idea that something they like might be enjoyed by other people. People who define themselves solely on the basis of how “edgy” they are.
Hey…you’re not edgy.
You’re an arse.
This song is era defining.
Drunks at the end of a night out sung it on the way home.
Your mum and dad sang along when it came on the radio.
Ryan Adams covered it and highlighted the pain and heartache at its core.
You love it.
I love it.
Here Liam delivers it and I’m wiping tears from my cheeks…even though I don’t know what a wonderwall is.
As you were.