When rumours spread that Liam Gallagher was preparing to record an Unplugged set for MTV, the ghosts of his past began to follow him around once more. For Oasis fans, Liam’s refusal in August 1996 to join his band on stage became a pivotal moment in the relationship between him and his brother Noel. The performance is still held dear by Oasis fans with Noel lending his emotional vocals to each song, growing in confidence as his time in the limelight went on. Why did Liam refuse to sing? Who knows? It is Liam Gallagher after all – but fans will always wonder ‘what if?’
Choosing a cathedral location in Hull this time round, Liam caused quite a stir in the days before the performance, with footage of Liam rehearsing Stand By Me from outside the venue flooding social media. For those lucky enough to attend, anticipation grew. Broadcast by MTV, the set is no doubt a high point in the comeback of the self-proclaimed last great Rock’n’Roll star. Almost a year on, the anticipation amongst fans for the record of the gig to be released is as great as it was a year ago.
Wall of Glass – The first single off his come back album As You Were, Wall of Glass has a punk-rock aura to it. While instrumentally it becomes a softer and more relaxed version than the album, Liam’s piercing vocals ensure that the those listening to the album know that this isn’t going to be a folk jamboree. Liam’s band and backing vocalists provide a flawless musical stage for him to latch on to.
Some Might Say – Next up is a track from Liam’s beloved Oasis. Just about 25 years since its original release, Some Might Say still has the magic touch. Joined by former bandmate, Bonehead, any notions of Liam’s voice not being what it was are quickly banished. Listen with your eyes closed as the record spins and you can picture the iconic hands behind the back stance of Gallagher as he glides through the chorus. Bonehead’s appearance adds to the already perfect band surrounding Liam.
Now that I Found You – Dedicated to his recently blossoming relationship with his daughter, Molly, the tenderness of this track surprised many when first released on Why Me? Why Not. It’s musical simplicity and the raw emotion in Liam’s voice make it another stand out track. This is a new Liam; a Liam trying to make up for his failings in the past while enjoying the life he has carved out today. This is a poignant moment on the track that shows a humbler Liam, which makes for an excellent track.
One of Us – It does not take a genius to decipher who this tune is aimed at. It provides an emotional and painful glimpse into the heartache of Liam losing his former comrade and brother. He appears content with the solo life he has carved out, but this song reminds us he wants Noel beside him… he really wants to be standing in front of an Oasis banner. ‘Come on I know you want more‘.
Stand By Me – As mentioned before, the rumours of this song making an appearance caused quite the stir. It’s delivery on this record is perhaps superior to the original Oasis recording. Bonehead’s 12 string guitar dominates proceedings with Liam leading the crowd in a touching homage to the old days. The track is clearly Liam’s stand out performance on the record, proving that, while the golden days of Oasis are over, the solo years of Liam Gallagher have their own magic to offer.
Sad Song – An Oasis fan favourite recorded originally by Noel; you can’t help but feel that Liam is reminding his older brother here that Oasis was a partnership. Again, joined by the now mythical Bonehead, Liam rolls back the years here with perfect vocals accompanied by an orchestra beautifully capturing the vibe of the song… ‘Don’t throw it all away‘.
Cast No Shadow – Originally written for Richard Ashcroft, this song is given new life as a synopsis of the difficult years for Liam following the splits of Oasis and Beady Eye. With no record, tour or even band, Liam’s musical journey appeared to be all but over. Quite literally ‘as he faced the sun he cast no shadow‘. Liam’s performance here expresses that fear of never returning to the stage.
Once – Perhaps the stand out song of Liam’s return, Once again shows a vulnerable side to the formidable rocker. Lyrically exceptional and accompanied by an expertly arranged orchestra, even the most hardened Oasis fans will have a tear in their eye as it plays. Reflective of the past, and showing gratitude for his several redemptions in his career, Once shines through on this record as a special song and capable of rubbing shoulders with anything from Oasis.
Gone – A wild-west stomper that encapsulates what it is that Liam Gallagher stands for; pure guitar music. It includes an interesting spoken word segment, something neither Gallagher has played around with before. This song stands out on the record as a shining example of the brilliance of Liam’s band and accompanying orchestra.
Champagne Supernova – The Oasis classic is a fitting end to the record. Stripped back to the bare piano chords, the non-sensical but astonishing lyrics are bellowed from the voice that has given this song it’s soul from the very beginning. This version shows Liam as the Rolls Royce of a vocalist that he is when all the stars align. Even Noel would surely have to nod his approval at his brother’s immense effort here.
NYUP Rating: Biblical/ 10.
By Thomas O’Callaghan
Liam Gallagher – MTV Unplugged is due for release tomorrow, June 12th.