The Californian sky was clear over San Bernardino and the temperature was touching 36°C as ‘Fuckin’ In The Bushes’ rang out and Liam Gallagher strutted onstage at CalJam. The day after the release of his debut solo album, Our Kid looked in fine fettle – as well he should. You could wait for a lifetime to spend your days in the sunshine.
Liam was here, like everyone else, because of the Foo Fighters, who pulled together this line-up and named it after the two original California Jams in the mid-1970s that had been headlined by bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Aerosmith. This time around, Gallagher was just one part of a British invasion which also featured Circa Waves, Royal Blood and the astonishingly good Wolf Alice. The original plan had been for the festival to launch the Foo’s own album, ‘Concrete and Gold’, which came out last month. As it happened, it fell closer to the release of Gallagher’s own ‘As You Were’ and couldn’t have been better timed to underscore Gallagher’s recent resurgence.
He opened with an explosive version of ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ and an exuberant ‘Morning Glory’, giving the main stage crowd a double helping of Oasis tunes to roar along to at the top of their lungs. With a tambourine clutched behind his back, it was then on to the new stuff for Gallagher, starting with ‘Greedy Soul’ and then lead single ‘Wall of Glass’, which he dedicated to “the one and only Greg Kurstin.” Kurstin’s influence was all around – not only did he co-write that song, he also produced the new Foo Fighters record, drew the festival posters and valet parked the tour buses too.
Today was Gallagher’s moment, though – and when you’re on a roll you’ve got to roll with it. After ‘Wall of Glass’ it momentarily looked like their might be a technical hiccup onstage, but it was quickly sorted out. “Did you think I was going to go off crying then?” teased Gallagher, before a gloriously sneering ‘For What It’s Worth’ and then the acoustic-led, Beatles-influenced organs of ‘Bold’. In all he played seven tracks from ‘As You Were’, alongside none at all from the Beady Eye years. He seems to have finally have his own material that can stand alongside the Oasis classics.
He closed with two more of those. After a righteous ‘Be Here Now’, he glanced out at the crowd and smirked: “Seeing as you’ve come all this way, were gonna do a song you’ve never heard before.” Then he sang ‘Wonderwall’, and everybody sang along.
That was the end of the set, but not the end of Gallagher’s scene-stealing. Back at Glastonbury in June, he had wandered into the Foo Fighters’ dressing room five minutes before their headline set in order to tell drummer Taylor Hawkins how much he loves his solo track ‘Range Rover Bitch’. He then turned to Dave Grohl and went: “And your shit’s alright too!”
At the time, Gallagher had turned down the offer to come out and join the band for a song. Almost four months later, they finally got around to it. At the climax of a typically epic two-hour Foo Fighters set, and also accompanied by Aerosmith’s Joe Perry on guitar (a tip of the hat to the original CalJam festivals), Liam Gallagher came out to sing a Beatles tune with them. Come together, right now.
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That was the plan, anyway. There was a moment of confusion before they started, as Liam had apparently disappeared. Then he swaggered on from stage left, ignoring Grohl and – just like in that dressing room – heading straight for Taylor Hawkins on the drum riser. Then they launched into a heavy, dirty version of ‘Come Together’ which also seemed to usher in a new sense of anarchy to the night. Gallagher, still with his raincoat hood up, danced around the stage with his arms-outstretched like the messiah on pills. A female stage-invader briefly took over lead vocals. As the song reached its crescendo, Gallagher uncharacteristically clambered down into the audience to crowd surf on his back.
By this point one fact was very clear: This might have been Foo Fighters’ festival, but it was Liam Gallagher’s night.