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27th March 2024

Liam Gallagher and John Squire live in Manchester: ‘Growing old disgracefully’ in the best way possible

Oasis’ Liam Gallagher teams up with boyhood guitar hero John Squire of The Stone Roses to deliver psychedelic raucousness in Manchester
Liam Gallagher and John Squire live in Manchester: ‘Growing old disgracefully’ in the best way possible
Credit: John McEvoy @ Wall of Sound

In 1989, a seventeen-year-old lad from Burnage went to see The Stone Roses. He left the gig determined to form his own band. The young man was Liam Gallagher. The band was Oasis.

It’s now 2024, and that seventeen-year-old is now a 51-year-old father of three. However, the veteran hell-raiser Liam Gallagher has looked back to his youth, teaming up with his boyhood guitar hero John Squire (of The Stone Roses and The Seahorses fame) to record a collaboration album and to play a string of intimate shows.

The LP Liam Gallagher John Squire, released earlier this month, has somewhat divided listeners. Yet, live in the flesh, Gallagher and Squire’s nostalgic psychedelia sounds more infectious than it ever could within the confines of the recording studio. The o2 Apollo stage is theirs.

Credit: John McEvoy @ Wall of Sound

The North-West dynamic duo, from Burnage and Altrincham respectively, were supported by indie singer/songwriter Jake Bugg – a shaky start to the evening, to say the least. Bugg, mop-haired and inconspicuously dressed, belted his neo-folk catalogue with resolve, but no inspiration. Listening to the Bob Dylan for the Dark Fruits generation with lukewarm engagement, it felt as though the crowd were happy to leave Bugg’s discography back in 2012.

The Oasis frontman then swaggered onto the stage to the pulsating guitar wash of ‘Just Another Rainbow’, and the o2 Apollo’s tepid reception to Bugg was – luckily – exchanged for a hearty Mancunian welcoming. When writing about Oasis, or Liam Gallagher’s solo outings, it’s impossible not to mention his swagger. Parka-clad, chest out, spring in the step, it’s what the younger Gallagher brother’s all about. Love him or loathe him, he’ll keep parading stages with the same conviction as he did in ’94.

Credit: John McEvoy @ Wall of Sound

No other frontman can combine the nasal melodiousness of John Lennon with the agitated snarl of John Lydon like Liam Gallagher. He patrolled the stage’s edge, locking eyes with his devotees, appearing to be equally likely to extend a hug as he was to spit in their faces. The weaker cuts on the collaboration album, such as ‘I’m So Bored’ or ‘Mother Nature’s Son’, were granted an aggressive edge lacking on the vinyl grooves. Gallagher injected his material with a physical presence that rock ’n’ roll dreams are made of.

Make no mistake, contrary to the constant chanting of “Liam! Liam! Liam!”, the true talent behind this collaborative showcase was The Stone Roses/The Seahorse’s John Squire. His solos spiralled and ricocheted across the venue, frequently nodding to the perception-breaking exploits of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Whilst the album constrains his talents to the demands of the traditional LP length, here, the live show allowed his solos to explore the stands of the o2 Apollo, much to the audience’s delight. Gallagher frequently departed the centre of the stage, content just listening to the talent of his guitar idol from the sidelines. Even a household name can’t help but ogle at John Squire.

Credit: John McEvoy @ Wall of Sound

The Byrds-esque jangle that Squire’s known for swooped in and out of the setlist, chiming with boyish wonder on ‘Mars To Liverpool’ and swooning with romance on ‘One Day At A Time’. Blues venture ‘I’m A Wheel’ rotated with sleazy haziness, fizzing with the same gloomy warmth as a 70s pub backroom, heavy with cigarette smoke. The six-string wunderkind sang through his guitar – every bit as distinctive as Gallagher’s trademark whine.

‘Raise Your Hands’ proved to be a hell-raiser of a climax. Part Roses’ ‘Ten Story Love Song’, part The Beatles’ ‘Getting Better’, the optimistic slice of psychedelic pomp echoed infectiously around the crevasses of the Apollo. Repeated “Na na na’s” rang out with Gallagher’s career-long knack for recycling melodies from John Lennon, like some sort of spiritual bookending.

The lyrics may sound like they’ve been made up on the spot – it wouldn’t come as a shock if they were indeed last-minute studio gibberish to beat recording deadlines – but they gleam with a boyish pleasure that calls back to yesteryear. If the lyrics to Oasis’ Definitely Maybe stand as the confident assertions of a pair of brothers with the world well and truly at their feet, then the lyrics to ‘Raise Your Hands’ showcase youth, vigour, and positivity still somehow intact – even after a world-conquering or two.

Credit: Jacob Ainsworth

The crowd raised their hands to Gallagher’s drawled calls: “Raise your hands / I can see you / We’re alive / Raise your hands.” The line “we’re alive” was delivered with particular togetherness, and perhaps even some dumfounded relief from the Oasis trouble-maker and the Roses man-of-mystery. After career pitfalls, relationships reduced to tatters, legal complications, cycles of drug abuse, mental disarray, Gallagher and Squire still stand… alive and well, at that. They’re ‘growing old disgracefully’ – and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Credit: John McEvoy @ Wall of Sound

Many fans probably went into the show expecting some sort of second coming, for the pop charts to crumble and fall away; for a new era of ‘Madchester’ to be resurrected from the ashes. Obviously, this was never going to happen. However, I didn’t go into the gig expecting a revolution. I expected a party. And that’s what we got.

Jacob Ainsworth

Jacob Ainsworth

20, he/him, UoM, Film Studies & English Literature. deputy music editor, writer, musician, illustrator and full-time Jarvis Cocker enthusiast

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