Liam Gallagher live in London: one British institution meets another at Teenage Cancer Trust gig

Royal Albert Hall, March 26: With 'Live Forever' dedicated to Taylor Hawkins and Liam's son Gene drumming to 'The River', the passion is high

“Top gaff, this, innit?” Liam Gallagher announces onstage at the Royal Albert Hall at this gig in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. The 5,000-capacity London venue is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious stages in the country, and it demands a certain level of respect. When metal mob Bring Me The Horizon played here in 2016, they brought a full orchestra with them. Earlier this week, even Yungblud – the enfant terrible of the glam-rock revival – wore a blazer and smart shoes for the occasion.

Liam Gallagher however, is not a man easily fazed. Swaggering onto the stage in his signature parka, he reassures the cheering crowd that “you deserve to be in here, man. This is our gaff.” For the rest of the night, it’s boozy, bellowing business as usual.

Opening with the thundering ‘Hello’ and an almighty ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’, tonight’s set veers between timeless indie rock anthems and the very best of Liam’s solo material. At this point in his career, though, it’s increasingly tough to tell them apart. He even blows the dust off Beady Eye’s jaunty ‘Bring The Light’, a track he hasn’t played live since his post-Oasis band broke up in 2014.

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Backed by a four-piece band and three singers, Liam gives rumbling Oasis tracks ‘Supersonic’ or ‘Slide Away’ a touch of flamboyance, while the recently released ‘Everything’s Electric’ is a hulking rock beast that finds him unafraid of a little pop. The title track to Gallagher’s upcoming third solo album ‘C’mon You Know’ is also given its first live airing. The fiery, stadium-sized anthem’s lyrics are quintessential Gallagher (“Beautiful people, come out to play / We’re only here for a short while/ I think it’s coming home again”) while the music has flashes of snarling punk alongside the expected rock excess. By the end of the track, people are already shouting the words like the song was released in 1994.

“As you can see, we’re a man down tonight,” Liam tells the crowd, with longtime guitarist Jay Mehler at home with “the sniffles.” He adds with a grin: “We’re still the bollocks – trust me.” There’s certainly no shortage of talented personnel in the his orbit: at one point, Liam’s 20-year-old son ably plays drums to solo cut ‘The River’.

Tonight is Gallagher’s first proper show of 2022 (he warmed up at the BRIT Awards earlier this month) and it’s a world away from the arenas and festival headlining slots he’s become accustomed to in recent years. Up next, he’s got a sold-out show at the Etihad stadium and two colossal gigs at his old stomping ground Knebworth park. That’s 220,000 people in three nights.

Still, he looks right at home in the relative intimacy of the Royal Albert Hall, bantering with fans on the front row or stopping the final encore of ‘Wonderwall’ to have the lights turned on so he can “see all the beautiful faces”. As he leaves the stage, he spends a few minutes just chatting to some people in the seats, much to security’s annoyance.

Despite all the success and his rock’n’roll bravado, Liam’s a man of the people and the very best moments of tonight’s show are also the most emotional. Those snarling guitar anthems, with their stories of friendship, love and heartbreak, offer – as always – a sense of escapism. Then there’s the moment he dedicates ‘Live Forever’ to Foo Fighters’ late drummer Taylor Hawkins, whom he describes as “a fucking joy”). Tonight’s gig is cathartic, jubilant and life-affirming, as one British institution meets another.

Credit: Jordan Hughes

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Liam Gallagher played:

‘Hello’

‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’

‘Wall of Glass’

‘Shockwave’

‘Greedy Soul’

‘Columbia’

‘Slide Away’

‘Stand by Me’

‘Everything’s Electric’

‘Bring the Light’

‘Once’

‘The River’

‘C’mon You Know’

‘Cast No Shadow’

‘Supersonic’

‘Live Forever’

‘Wonderwall’

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