The Observer, Sunday 13 March 2011
Liam Gallagher: the last of a dying breed. Photograph: EMPICS Entertainment
Expectations surrounding the arrival of Beady Eye were low in one respect but mega in two others: forget their record, because any incarnation of latter-day Oasis minus their chief songwriter was scarcely likely to ring the sonic changes; rather, first, what about the interviews?
Noel Gallagher was the sharper wit, but there was always something irresistible about his younger brother's outbursts: by turns caustic and surreal, Liam succeeded in emulating his idol John Lennon when it came to giving journalists memorable quotes just as much as in any other respect. So given the opportunity to set up the release of his new band's record in the wake of Oasis's ugly split in August 2009, Liam, you felt, would come out of his corner snarling.
Instead, he's sounded just a bit defensive, and while scarcely conciliatory towards "our kid", neither has the Pretty Green fashionista minted anything quite so damning as his famous description of Noel's "old man vibe... big woolly jumpers and cardigans... Terry Wogan, Val Doonican shit". Nor has he been mouthing off about contemporary bands who might be seen as real rivals to Beady Eye, whereas Oasis could dish it out without recourse – even if few could resist the pop he did have recently at Radiohead: "Them writing a song about a fucking tree? Give me a fucking break! A thousand-year-old tree? Go fuck yourself!"
None the less, any concerns that the fight has gone out of Liam are quickly assuaged when you see Beady Eye live, the second treat that the idea of the band promised – partly because any audience chanting Liam's name was always going to be prone to feistiness itself. So it proves at the Troxy in east London on the last night of the group's first short UK tour, with the lads rucking down the front and, up on the balcony, blood spurting from someone's lip one minute, before he puts his arm round the mate who's punched him the next. The appeal of Oasis from the off was in no little part located in the licence they gave a generation to, well, rock'n'roll, following the indie wallflower years, and it wasn't pretty, it wasn't clever, but since they've been gone, no one – not Kasabian, not the Enemy, certainly not yet the Vaccines – has filled their boots. So why not Beady Eye, who, if you squint, look oh-so-very-much like Oasis?
One answer might be that the generation weaned on "Supersonic" and "Some Might Say" should surely have grown up by now, and mellowed. On "Lippy Kids" on Elbow's new album, Guy Garvey sings of the charms of reckless youth; it's a gentle, wistful song, in which he notes that he, for one, "never perfected the simian stroll". But Liam is actually a year older at 38 than Guy, and he still walks that walk, exuding menace, leaning up and into his mic like he might butt it.
Nothing's changed, except, and it's in no way a reliable memory, when Oasis played Knebworth in 1996 and Liam wore a ridiculous chunky jumper very much in the style of T Wogan, I don't remember seeing him from half a mile back sweat any then; too cool. But tonight, he refuses to take off his macintosh even as damp patches begin to spread across it. But that's less a sign of his ageing than an indication that, once again, he really means it, maaan.
The wall of noise that the band produces is similarly both fierce and deeply comforting, constructed using some classic templates. Last year's first single "Bring the Light" actually sounds quite novel, because it mines the barrelhouse boogie of Little Richard, rather than the fab sounds of the 1960s; they come, too, inevitably, and "The Roller" could scarcely be more Lennonesque, although they do a clever thing on "Beatles and Stones" – "I just want to rock'n'roll/I'm going to stand the test of time/Like Beatles and Stones" – because that one actually sounds just like the Who.
Subjected to this noise, faced with Liam as a frontman, that part of the brain that tells you that this is desperate stuff, devoid of originality (and just look at how the rest of the band are dressed, like they're auditioning for a film of the Britpop years, a pastiche of a pastiche), shuts down, and "The Beat Goes On" actually does sound like the big Zippo lighter moment it so plainly wants to be. "Someday all the world will sing my song," Liam sings, and heard live, it doesn't sound a wholly absurd suggestion.
It's not "Champagne Supernova", never mind "Let It Be"; but there's also the rather touching – from Liam! – acknowledgment that "I'm the last of a dying breed." But then, back out on the streets afterwards, it turns out that it is still 2011 after all