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LIAM GALLAGHER @ HBF Stadium gets 9/10


Liam Gallagher @ HBF Stadium
w/ Pond, Old Mervs
Saturday, July 31, 2022 

9/10 

Liam Gallagher is one the few remaining real rock ‘n’ roll stars, and Saturday night proved he’s still got it. The voice, the swagger, the stage presence, and most importantly, the songs. While he doesn’t get up to as much mischief these days and is less of a dickhead, he’s still one of the greatest, most enigmatic frontmen of all time. While he’s now an elder statesman of the scene, he’s back in top form.

These days he drinks tea instead of booze before gigs, gets plenty of sleep, goes for early morning runs and seems to genuinely care about putting on a good show for his fans. Quite a different story to when they first visited Perth (and Rotto) in 1998 and claim to barely remember the tour at all. Oasis were banned for life from Cathay Pacific during their flight from Hong Kong. Their much-anticipated performance at the old Entertainment Centre was certainly not their finest hour. It was a messy performance with Liam half singing lyrics, shouting and spitting a lot. But everyone has to grow up sometime, and this new Liam era has proven there’s still plenty of life left in this old dog, and some new tricks as well.

Liam Gallagher

Now on his third Australian tour for his third album under his own name, he’s got a swag of great new material that sits comfortably alongside the Oasis classics. Mind you, he doesn’t write them, but he doesn’t care. He has a crack team of Oasis-style songwriters, like AI Noel. He unabashedly gives the people what they want and does not shy away from leaning into the classics hard. Exemplified by a final volley of certified hits on Saturday night that drew escalating screams of joy from the delighted masses. Though for anyone who’s read any reviews of his gigs in the last year, his setlists have varied little. This is the best set he feels he can give us at this point in time. And it’s pretty damn good. You’d be hard pressed to find another band that could finish a set so strongly.

A huge crowd descended upon HBF Stadium, swamping the entrance, and the ill-prepared outdoor bar, that was smashed all night with a huge queue. It was a rowdy, but mostly well-behaved crowd, made up of almost as many British as the recent Premier League Tour. People seemed ecstatic all night, excited to see their resurrected hero sing those songs but also just to be out at a huge rock concert. The vibe was electric.

Old Mervs

Many milled around outside in the bar area while rising local stars Old Mervs, who scored the biggest support of their short careers, entertained the early crowd that ventured through the dark, laser filled corridor into the main GA standing arena. This drums-guitar duo of country boys play laidback, accessible, garage rock, with a sun and surf-soaked melodic jangle that is unmistakably Australian.

Pond

Local legends and internationally renowned indie rock heroes Pond had the main support and looked comfortable on the big stage. Nick Allbrook never fails to impress as the enigmatic frontman, somewhat like a lovechild of Michael Hutchence and David Bowie with his unique moves and vocals, and they launched straight into recent single America’s Cup. 

They only had a half hour slot on the night, but would have gained some new fans, with a super-tight set of some of their finest moments from across their nine albums, focusing on their latest album, aptly called 9. The band are so polished these days, keeping it locked down while Allbrook gyrates and shimmys. Sweep Me Off My Feet sounded great, Tasmania was smooth and funky, and Take Me Avalon I’m Young was a vibe.

It was the third and last show of the tour, and Allbrook commented, “It’s been a fun tour, we’ve had a great time with those crazy fellas.” And later, having just found out the sad breaking news of his passing, Allbrook also took a moment to pay respect to legendary Archie Roach. “Do yourselves a favour and put on Charcoal Lane when you get home tonight.”

Liam Gallagher

Then it was time for the main event. The anticipation was building and as the stage was prepped you could feel the excitement in the air. Soon enough the lights dropped and The Stone Roses’ I Am The Resurrection blasted from the speakers, as has become a customary precursor to Gallagher’s shows, sparking a big singalong. As the 8+ minute song came to its conclusion, the chants of “Liam!” started up, morphing into the Manchester City champions football chant. MCFC was plastered on the bass drum, and ROCK’ N’ ROLL on the keyboard stand.

The scorching guitar riff of Fuckin’ In The Bushes kicked in – the intro track on 2000’s Standing on the Shoulder of Giants – as Oasis once used to start their sets. The giant video screen exploded into life, with a montage of images of Liam, and giant, increasingly ridiculous words flashed up – BIBLICAL, GODLIKE, ICON, MAJESTICAL, OPTIMISTIC, APPROACHABLE, LOVER, HUMBLE.

Liam Gallagher

Then there he was, strutting on stage with his maracas, camo parka, sunnies, and shaggy hair. He planted himself behind the mic, arms behind his back, in his inimitable style, as the band fittingly launched into Hello. “Here we fookin’ go!” as one excitable geezer was heard to shout. The cheers had barely subsided, before Gallagher proclaimed “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star!” and tore through the classic cut from Oasis’ massive debut Definitely Maybe.

This was a bigger stage show than previous tours. Huge stadium-sized visuals with a giant screen that could be divided into three big verticals or many smaller screens. His full touring band were impressive, with three guitars, bass, drums, keys and even a duo of female backing singers, because yeah, he’s reached that level. Together they created a dense wall of driving, dynamic sound, but Liam’s voice always stood out on top of it all. The lead guitar could have been a bit louder at times though – as I’m sure Noel would have agreed.

Liam Gallagher

There was minimal banter and no messing about tonight as they charged through the set – the familiar sounds (and image) of helicopter blades announced a blistering rendition of Morning Glory. Then he delved into the new material, starting with his first solo single Wall of Glass, and the even better Dave Grohl penned instant classic Everything’s Electric from the new album C’mon You Know.

One of Oasis’ greatest, most underrated singles Stand By Me sounded magnificent and sparked a huge singalong, that saw burly grown men embracing with tears of joy. We even got a deep cut off Standing on the Shoulders… the closing track, lumbering psychedelic jam Roll It Over. Its slower pace providing something of a respite, before he wound things up again with one of the highlights of the eve, fan favourite, the glorious Slide Away.

Liam Gallagher

He touched on his Beady Eye days with Soul Love, before beautiful ballad Diamond In The Dark which has a bigger sound live, and all the orchestral pomp of a Beatles track. Once may be one of his greatest tunes yet with its nostalgic sentiment and lyrics “You only get to do it once.” But before you could catch your breath, he brought the set storming home with the epic trifecta of Cigarettes & Alcohol, the timeless Wonderwall – letting the crowd sing a chorus – before finishing on the absolute classic Live Forever, really belting out the last chorus. “Thanks for coming out!” he shouted, before strolling off stage and letting the band play out.

Liam Gallagher

There were roars of approval – it was a massive set, biblical if you will, and it could have easily ended there. But it wasn’t over yet, and after a short break and more chants of “Liam!” they returned to hit it out of the park with a mighty encore of Supersonic and the celestial (as a sign in the crowd read) Champagne Supernova. Liam Gallagher is well and truly back. Now we just need him to make up with Noel and get the old band back together! The world needs the full Oasis experience again. Until then, this is as good as it gets.

ALFRED GORMAN

Photo by Stu McKay

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