Beady Eye - Manchester Ritz
“He must be fucking boiling in that coat.” What? Who said that? Even the hardcore are starting to pick away at the various sub-iconic levels of the Gallagher oeuvre, it would seem. While most of the 2000 ticket winners (90% male) of a fan club draw demonstrate unwavering commitment, pockets hold back. Watch. Take it in. Why’s that, then? Age? After all, despite a strangely young contingent, most of the crowd are easily 40 plus. Or something more reflective? Perhaps. Maybe letting your mind wander back to the glory years of Maine Road and Knebworth is tricky while bouncing around in the pit. Still, it’s not like this lot are going anywhere too soon. Where would they go? A couple of Liam wannabes at the bar, all roman noses and ill-thought feather cuts ponder the current music scene: “Yeah, we went seeing Bonehead’s new band last week. Yeah, they’re alright, yeah…”
Still, there’s enough unwavering adulation tonight, for the singer at least, for Beady Eye to remain an ongoing concern. Despite ongoing concerns. “Liam, Liam!” The chant rises after every song. During a couple of them. Yer man nods his approval. Appraising the mob, hands in pockets, he says little bar the odd introduction. Does that walk around the stage. Performs rock’s best-known thousand yard stare during the odd extended passage. For someone for whom the fans matter the most and everyone else (critics, media, other musicians) can go fuck themselves, the fans show some considerable faith. ‘Does he actually, you know, like us?’ gulp the Pretty Green-clad faithful. In other hands, this aloofness might pass as mystique. But to truly build enigma, letting the music speak for you is always the smartest option. And here’s where Liam Gallagher’s Post-Oasis Backing Band walk a fine line.
New album BE is immediately more appealing than the hastily assembled Different Gear, Still Speeding. With a fuller production and a broader mix of both tone and pace, it makes their debut sound a bit desperate, a bit weedy. But, conversely, it’s an album that sounds almost unsure of itself. You can almost hear them in the studio. “Should we stick a bit of this on that..?” That’s why maybe, with that whole 'Real Music' manifesto Liam tosses out every now and then (bearing in mind, of course, that here’s a musician who’s not really a music fan), Beady Eye should maybe go for some subliminal re-imaging as a live band. In a small hall with good sound and the addition of their horn section, they make good on the (tangible) anticipation. The opening ‘Flick of the Finger’ is huge, a wall of sound propelled by the newly recruited Jay Mehler’s bass and a bank of horns. There’s the odd misfire. Bar some howlers on ‘Face the Crowd’, Liam is in good voice throughout.
The new stuff meets the challenge set by their recorded versions. A mid-set lull is both exaggerated and corrected by roof-raising takes on ‘Morning Glory’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ (the latter introduced with: “This is a cover.” Oh, come on!) There are flaws in the plan, mind. You can’t help but think that rather than dragging his Oasis session players out on the road with him, post-split, he might have best supported his new endeavour by hooking up with a hungry pack of young bucks rather than the bloke from Ride and the bloke from Heavy Stereo. He really should have found himself a young Randy Rhoads for the indie generation and made himself work that bit harder. Because when Liam wanks on about it being 'a band' and it’s not all about him, you look at, say, dreary old Andy Bell, strumming away, motionless, expressionless behind those shades and you chortle at the temerity. But, hey. Give a dog a bone.
A capable live act, then? Getting there, perhaps. But still, despite the Lennon-referencing ‘The Roller’, for much of their middling repertoire, Beady Eye don’t so much shine on as plough on. (Destroying a tiny home town crowd is hardly a challenge.) While, of course, big brother and his High Flying Birds… well, fly high, winning the commercial battle by leagues.
If our kid really does want to knock him down a peg or two, he should have a re-think. While Noel gritted his teeth and set about being the best song writer he could be, Liam squared up to himself and targeted little more than giving the world the best Liam Gallagher the world has ever seen. And who could blame him? But those are far from lofty ambitions. You doubt somehow that respectable sales and a bit part on the wider stage will ever really be enough. If radically re-working the current model isn’t an option, there’s a more obvious route, is there not? Eh, Liam? Liam, your old mate Robbie broke up ‘Robbie Williams’ due to “musical similarities.” You see where this is going, right? Right? Have a word with yourself, eh? And take your coat off if you’re stopping.