> Liam Gallagher – Ovo Hydro – 19th June 2024 (live review) - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

Liam Gallagher – Ovo Hydro – 19th June 2024 (live review)

No one needs a review of Liam Gallagher and the Definitely Maybe anniversary tour.

Whether you were there or not, or perhaps you’re going to see him at TRNSMT, your opinion on Liam, Oasis, and these songs is already set in stone.

Perfect Opener

The set, as with all great Oasis gigs, began with ‘Rock N Roll Star.’ Honestly, if you want a reason why the band’s 1995 headline Glastonbury set wasn’t a rip-roaring success, this song’s position on the setlist was one of the crucial factors. Using ‘Rock N Roll Star’ as a closer instead of the first track threw it all out of kilter before Alan White had warmed his drum seat!

It’s the perfect opener, a blueprint for everything Noel needed to say, the ideal platform for Liam to grab you and race along the street with glee and abandonment. It used to be the starter flag for mayhem, but at the Hydro, it was the soundtrack to a light show.

Noel has mentioned a lot about how the world has changed, and while the sea of phone lights was pretty, it dampened the chaos. No one wants to jump while they’re filming or holding a piece of equipment that’s the most expensive thing they own and houses their life these days. It immediately made you feel like it’s a viewing affair as opposed to something we were all in together, which was the backbone of early Oasis gigs.

Nostalgia

It started to feel as though being fortunate enough to have seen the band thirty years ago was a hindrance to enjoying the night. Nostalgia is what dragged you out of the house or pub when the national team was playing, but nostalgia alone strangles you; it hinders creativity.

The sight of backing singers hand-clapping their way through ‘Columbia’ was disconcerting. If we believe the views of Liam and The Real People, the track should have a songwriting credit list as lengthy as the Taylor Swift or Beyonce tracks that Noel criticises in his grumpy old man style, but the song should never be treated like a pop act’s stadium filler.

It’s a basic bludgeoning groove, a melding of dance and indie with less creativity and panache than the Happy Mondays managed, but more for the everyday man. ‘Columbia’ is dance music for those who can’t dance, a groove for the indie kids, and here, it bordered on the polished and pretty.

Parka Monkeys

Also, at just two songs in, it was the first time you missed Noel. Look, Liam’s the better rock ‘n’ roll singer, no questions on that, and the parka monkeys are right to point out that the band wouldn’t have made it to the level they did without him. That doesn’t mean it was all on him, though. The backing vocals on the repeated ‘yeah yeah yeah’ just make it all too clear what’s missing.

At Loch Lomond in 1996, when the band’s fame and power was at its peak, as the opening track meandered its way to a close, it took a turn, twisting in the wind and dragging people down from the hill and towards the stage. If it was possible to record the sound of Moses descending Mount Sinai with the tablets of The Ten Commandments in his hands, it would have been Noel’s backing vocals tearing through the Balloch sky. Here, well, never mind the Ballochs, it just wasn’t comparable.

Johnny Rotten’s spitfire energy



And let’s not get started on Liam’s rap, freshly discovered amidst the newly released demo version. Of course, it’s complete nonsense, but sweetly, it brought to mind Johnny Rotten’s spitfire energy, and all the proclamations of this new Mancunian act being The Sex Beatles, with Oasis merging the two, came to mind. That was nonsense too, but they were fun times, and ultimately, so was this gig.

At times, Liam was brilliant. When you think of the depths his performances plumbed in the 2000s and beyond Oasis into Beady Eye, large parts of the night were a revelation. Whether it’s clean living or a little technical support, who cares, the outcome is worth it. Anyways, no one lost sleep about the performance-enhancing drugs the band took in the 90s…

More importantly, the night improved. Perhaps expectations were just too high, memories of the opening songs still lingering too strong in your heart and mind to fully love the facsimile version. The set quickly bowled through ‘Shakermaker,’ ‘Up In The Sky,’ and ‘Digsy’s Dinner,’ its rinky-dink feel and hollerings of lasagne still bringing a smile to this face all the years on.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

It was with the B-sides that things felt fresh and relevant, though. Maybe it was a case of absence making the heart grow fonder, maybe it was just a case of these songs having room to breathe without ghosts of the past, but the add-ons were fresh and lively.

‘I Will Believe’ was a revelation, retaining its fresh-faced innocence, perfectly preserved after being locked away all these years. ‘Lock All The Doors’ was a neat turn, but even though I know why it didn’t happen, Liam helming the High Flying Birds version would have made it a much better song.

Again, though, we returned to the absence of The Chief. For all that Liam is the guy you need to bawl his heart and lungs out, Noel’s your man for pathos and balancing world-weary with slight optimism. ‘Half The World Away’ was beautiful, the first real moment where we all came together. It’s not just a B-side; with the Royle Family and John Lewis chucking money at it, it’s a song that lives within so many of us. The sad passing of Caroline Aherne only enhanced its poignancy, becoming a simple song that’s so much bigger than the strings and handclaps.

From great to Godlike

If Noel was on this and ‘D’Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?,’ they’d have been elevated from great to Godlike, which is what Liam aspires to. Then again, ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ was just the song to get us back on track with the album revelry. 

The brazen steal of the T-Rex lift and swaggering sneer masks a song that is as relevant today as it was then. If Billy Bragg wrote this damning indictment of life for youths, it would be taught in schools. Thirty years on, and if anything, things are worse for youngsters, who can blame them for thinking there’s no hope apart from the escape you give yourself.

Do you need me to talk you through the encore of ‘Supersonic,’ ‘Slide Away,’ and ‘Live Forever?’ These are songs etched on people’s skin, burned into people’s hearts. There will be memories of people no longer with us, folk we no longer see or speak with, places that no longer exist that cling to every bar and line of these songs, and you felt that in the room. Liam was tremendous on ‘Slide Away,’ bellowing through a love song like few others.

Psychedelic bite



The last song of the night, as with all great Oasis gigs, was ‘I Am The Walrus.’ John Lennon’s trip through Lewis Carroll, reimagined with feedback and psychedelic bite. For one last time, you were back there, picturing the chaos, inhaling the stench of sweat and smoke, making sure you had one blast before you knew you’d be thrown out into the cool of the evening, shivering like a serviceable villain. Here, it was good; it wasn’t what it was, but paraphrasing from ‘Shock Of The Lightning,’ gigs are a time machine, and while we can’t go back, your mind can see those days clearer than you have done in years.

Away from the songs, there wasn’t much to focus on. The stage was neatly presented, tapping into the album cover, and you’ll never be unhappy watching Bonehead. The chat was minimal, albeit with relevant nods to the football and the band’s Glasgow history. The rest of the band were completely interchangeable, and being honest, the drums were quite lumpy and leaden. Now, you might suggest that’s spot on, but let’s not be cruel, Tony McCarroll was the punching bag in the band, he doesn’t need more abuse now.

Songs aging better than…

None of that matters; you have the songs and the frontman that defined an era in the UK, and it all stands up to this day (yes, standing up with its hands behind its back in front of a mic). Was it the same as it was? Of course not, and neither am I…and let’s be honest, these songs have aged better than I have!

As said at the start, this tour changes nothing for anyone with an opinion either way on Oasis. These shows, though, and no doubt the TRNSMT set, made a hell of a lot of people happy, and if you’re too miserable to allow others to find joy in something they like, even when you don’t like it yourself, you deserve everything that falls your way.

No matter what time you’re talking about, these could be the best days of your life; it’s down to how you make the most of it.

Photo Credits: Andy Reilly

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