TORONTO - British rocker Liam Gallagher was clearly in friendly territory on Monday night at Sound Academy before his post-Oasis band Beady Eye took the stage for their much anticipated Toronto debut.
First of all, Gallagher’s married to Hamilton, Ont.’s Nicole Appleton, and they have a son together.
So maybe it was family, and not a group of fans on a small balcony overlooking the packed floor below, that dangled a large Union Jack flag minutes before Gallagher appeared on stage.
Whatever the case, about 10 minutes later, Gallagher came out decked in his own neck-to-knees stylish Union Jack jacket with a questionable pageboy haircut but still looking every inch the rock star. The chants of “Liam! Liam!” started up shortly afterwards.
Swagger fully intact and in great, big voice, with his arms behind his back in his trademark stance, Gallagher then let it rip for the next hour and 10 minutes.
With only one Beady Eye album, Different Gear, Still Speeding, to play from, the occasional B-side (Two of A Kind), bonus track (Man Of Misery) and cover (World Of Twist’s Sons of The Stage) was thrown into the mix too.
Gallagher, aided by guitarists Gem Archer and Andy Bell and drummer Chris Sharrock (essentially four-fifths of Oasis), plus touring bassist Jeff Wootton and keyboardist Matt Jones, had the audience riveted to his every move, whether he was rolling up a towel in one fist like he was getting ready to deliver a punch, or just prowling the stage checking fans out.
And even if the Beady Eye songs aren’t uniformly great - the album is a hit and miss affair - you’ve got to give Liam credit for being the first Gallagher out of the gate with music.
While he is touring North America with Beady Eye for the first time, his older brother Noel - who left Oasis after one final furious fight with his sibling before a 2009 Paris concert - just got married for the second time this past weekend overseas (an event to which Liam wasn’t invited) and has yet to release his first post-Oasis solo album.
This isn’t meant to pit one brother against the other, only to say that after you’ve been in a super successful Britpop band like Oasis for 15 years, it’s not easy to emerge from that shadow.
And given Noel was always thought of as the band’s brain trust as the guitarist and main songwriter, it’s surprising that Liam’s the one first up to bat.
Of the Beady Eye songs, charging rockers like Four Letter Word and Beatles and Stones worked best, opening the evening one after the other, but middling numbers like Millionaire, Two Of a Kind, For Anyone, Wind up Dream, Morning Son, and Wigwam, dragged the proceedings down.
They also had one good ballad, Kill For a Dream, but the other standouts were of the mid-tempo to rocking variety like The Roller, the set highlight Bring The Light with black and white film of go-go girls played in the background while Gallagher dedicated the song to “all the beautiful ladies of Toronto,” Standing On The Edge Of the Noise, and Three Ring Circus.
Sadly, Gallagher has decided any Oasis material is a no-go zone in his current live show and one couldn’t help wonder how much better Monday night’s show might have been had he thrown in the odd Oasis song, even if it was just the ones he, and not Noel, had written.
No one can deny the musical past, especially when it’s one as rich as that of Oasis.