Don't call it a comeback: the return to rock's pinnacle for Liam Gallagher.
The return to headline festival status for the parka-clad, sneering, epitome of Britpop cool, Mr Liam Gallagher, marks the zenith of what could be seen as the fourth era of LG. After tearing the music scene apart with their Northern wit and grit, Oasis redefined what rock stardom meant to a generation from 1994 to 1997, with Liam
riding high on the crest of that wave. Once that wave broke, Liam (and big brother Noel) entered a second stage, marked with bloated, coke-fuelled albums, constantly being photographed at the Groucho Club, and endless public spats, that ran for the next 10 years and spelt the end of the band, both in terms of quality, then finally altogether. In 2009, Liam entered the third era with new group Beady Eye producing two very average albums. With yet more shenanigans, it seemed he was destined to join that long list of formerly great rock artists forever. However, that wasn't the end of the story. 2017 marked a surprise as Liam Gallagher achieved something that hasn't been done since Ian Brown reinvented himself post Roses, dropping a brilliant solo record
and launching a successful comeback. His appearance at London's Finsbury Park cements that return and his place in rock history all over again.
This Liam Gallagher is a new and improved version. His voice making a remarkable return after a few worrying years, and his attitude newly humble yet still as cocky as ever. Little wonder then, that the show has been sold out for over a year, and the sheer legions of fans, from every era, march on the park like it's the second coming.
Support comes in the ever dependable guise Richard Ashcroft who woos the crowd with still, what is probably, the best male voice of the 90s. Accompanied simply by acoustic guitar, the wafts of Bittersweet Symphony drift out over the heads of the audience, many of whom weren't born when the song came out, setting the perfect rueful yet hedonistic tone for what is to come next.
Flickering onto the big screens, in what is apparently the latest big-gig craze, images of Liam Gallagher and his signature walk as he swaggers through the backstage area to the sounds of Oasis-via-Zeppelin track 'Fuckin' In the Bushes', whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Emerging, Gallagher and his band launch straight into 'Rock n Roll Star' and the beer goes flying out of glasses everywhere. Solo stompers 'Wall of Glass' and ‘For What It’s Worth' blend seamlessly into the old songs - which is no insignificant compliment. Ripping back into crowd pleaser classics like 'Slide Away', 'Cigarettes and Alcohol', and 'Whatever' keeps the energy high and the audience in a state of euphoria. There's even time for some surprises, as B-Sides 'Listen Up' and even rarer 'D'Ya Wanna Be a Spaceman' are brought out for the nostalgics.
Clearly, the omission of anything Beady Eye-related shows that the blip has been forgotten and it's time for business as usual for Liam. Standing proud with hair and parka immaculate through an instrumental, his sneer blends into a wry smile for a moment as he gazes at the crowd - perhaps amused by the suggestion that he needs Oasis - or even his brother - to achieve these highs. Tonight dispells any such thought, this is his defining solo moment and his crowd. They are his disciples and this is truly his church. Welcome back Liam!