Liam Gallagher shines at triumphant homecoming gig
Manchester's iconic Boardwalk nightclub stands now as a symbol of unrelenting gentrification.
Apartments occupy the once musical fulcrum where the likes of The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays and James all cut their teeth.
It is where five fresh-faced Mancunian lads under the banner of Oasis polished a handful of gems destined to shine forever.
It is proof that Manchester never stands still.
And the same could be said for Liam Gallagher.
A mere 40-minute walk from the old Boardwalk is Old Trafford Cricket Ground.
On Saturday night – exactly 27 years since Oasis played their first ever gig, at the Boardwalk – the Burnage boy returned home for his biggest solo show to date. It’s been quite a journey.
The fire will never burn as bright or as strong as it did in the mid-90s, regardless of how often Liam stokes reunion embers on social media.
Music, society, the country has moved on. Liam though is still standing. And people care. More than ‘40,000 Northern Souls’ - thank you Richard Ashcroft - care.
Whether or not you believe Liam is one of the last true rock 'n' roll stars, he does. His arrogance is invigorating, intoxicating.
Cameras capture his march to the stage, relaid to the big screens as cries of ‘Liam’ reverberate around the night sky.
Not a flicker of emotion crosses his face as he enters the fray. A curt nod to the masses suffices before another nod, this time to Lennon – "I am he, as you are he, as you are me. And we are all together."
"Rock 'n' Roll Star" he barks. And the crowd erupts.
Liam Gallagher is a frontman. A great frontman. He added not just the vocals but the swagger and the edge to Noel’s mastery craftsmanship, he gave Oasis its bite.
Noel could never deliver 'Rock 'n' Roll Star' or 'Morning Glory' – up next – the way Liam does. They ooze attitude and Liam has that in abundance.
It is a set heavy on Oasis, obviously.
That's not to say his own material falls on deaf ears. Far from it. 'Wall of Glass' evokes a rapturous singalong which is warming to see. Similarly, 'For What It's Worth' is welcomed with arms aloft.
Dedicating ‘Lucky Man’ to the junior Gallagher, the prodigious Richard Ashcroft – as worthy a warm-up as you could ever wish for – declared: "This is his day and I’m honoured to be here."
Undoubtedly this was his day but during a rare outing of 'Soul Love', from the Beady Eye back catalogue, he was more than happy to share the limelight, paying tribute to Aretha Franklin's "most beautiful voice in the universe".
Liam’s voice – a constant source of debate – was in fine fettle.
‘Bring It On Down’ delivered with the same punchy punk angst that made Alan McGee sit up and take notice all those years ago and 'Listen Up' - one of the great b-sides - exquisite.
The softer moments stand out too. ‘Whatever’ and a beautiful piano-driven version of 'Champagne Supernova', led by Burnley’s very own Christian Madden, are stunning; 'D’yer Wanna Be a Spaceman', an acoustic delight.
As 'Supersonic', 'Some Might Say', 'Cigarettes & Alcohol' and 'Wonderwall' are rattled off one after another it’s easy to get swept along on a wave of nostalgia. It's not Oasis but it may be as close to Oasis as we're ever going to hear and thus every note, every word, every momentous singalong is embraced.
"Beautiful people of Manchester this is going to have to be the last song."
It is of course 'Live Forever'. And as the Manchester worker bee floats upon the big screen, the number 22 resting gracefully upon its back, the music and the night take on extra meaning.
Manchester may never stand still. But it will always remember.