Liam Gallagher and John Squire at O2 Forum Kentish Town, 25/03/24

Forget Oasis. Forget The Stone Roses. This is a no-frills, all-thrills 2024 reinvention

A number one record. A tour that sold out in nanoseconds. The early days of the historic union of two of Manchester’s most eminent musical sons has already scaled the heights. You might think it was too soon for a backlash but still the naysayers come. Feathers either ruffled because the music sounds just like you’d expect (and if you didn’t, you really weren’t paying close enough attention), or the artwork isn’t to their liking. Ah, the modern world. 

For an inveterate mischief-maker like Liam Gallagher, he seems to revel in the controversy of his every utterance, playing the unreliable narrator and court jester. Be it via scattergun outbursts on – no matter how incomprehensible they may be – or by way of press interviews, his every potty-mouthed proclamation sets social media ablaze. Case in point: the Gallagher Squire record isn’t the best since Revolver, after all. He must be sniggering into his pint glass. 

One of the more legitimate complaints, however, has been the cost of this tour. Much has been made about the brevity of the set – clocking in at under an hour, there’s no denying it’s short and sweet – but the duo are committed to eschewing either artist’s back catalogue. They will forge ahead on their terms. 

Heading to the capital for the final two shows of their nine-date UK and Ireland tour backed by Joey Waronker (drums), Little Barrie (bass) and a keyboardist, the setup was thrillingly rough around the edges. The rawness suited the music so well you wonder whether Greg Kurstin’s production may have throttled some of the vibrancy out of this material in the studio. 

Opening with the ‘Waterfall’-meets-‘Rain’ psychedelic lope of debut single ‘Just Another Rainbow’, a no-nonsense tone was set for what followed. Beneath his heavy fringe, and donning a dark-hued Kagool, Squire wrangled sophisticated licks and chiming melodies from his Ferrari-red Strat. Gallagher, replete in a white parka, attacked the microphone with trademark venom, clearly revelling in the challenges Squire’s songs offer him as he wrapped his larynx around their ambitious twists and turns.

Squire approximated his best Hendrix impression on live highlight ‘I’m A Wheel’, whose 12-bar blues scorched the auditorium, while the Faces-like rumble of ‘You’re Not the Only One’ sounded like the Red Arrows tearing through a perilous piece of aerial choreography. ‘I’m So Bored’ mixed Pistols’ punk with Who muscle to powerful effect, and the Beatle-y lilt of ‘Make It Up As You Go Along’ gave Gallagher the closest emulation of Lennon’s spirit he’s achieved since Oasis’s ‘Songbird’. And throughout the set, it was abundantly clear that Gallagher’s voice is in its finest fettle in years. 

A recurring two-syllable ‘’Li-am!’’ chant was loud enough to rattle the walls of the nearby Bull & Gate public house from a crowd that exhibited more feral testosterone than a teenage boys’ boarding school. And yet Gallagher and Squire sated the febrile mood by summoning every ounce of melodic might from their eponymous album. No stone, bar or syllable was left unturned from it. 

Those unable to steer their sights away from social media knew that the encore was a rollicking cover of the Rolling Stones’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, but even prior knowledge couldn’t nullify its efficacy. This was a haymaker that sealed the GS deal, ending on a celebratory note as the band exited stage left. 

There’ll be more to come from this pairing. And as for the nostalgia, it begins and ends with who they are and where they’ve come from. It has nothing to do with where they’re going. Where they’re going is somewhere new. For better or worse. Their message is simple and clear: either “raise your hands” and jump on for the ride or look the other way. On this form, you’d take the former.

Liam Gallagher starts his Definitely Maybe UK tour in June, which includes headline slots at TRNSMT and Reading & Leeds festivals. Find tickets here

Photo credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage