Gig review: Liam Gallagher at Utilita Arena, Sheffield

Liam Gallagher performing at the Utilita Arena, Sheffield. Picture: Scott AntcliffeLiam Gallagher performing at the Utilita Arena, Sheffield. Picture: Scott Antcliffe
Liam Gallagher performing at the Utilita Arena, Sheffield. Picture: Scott Antcliffe
The former Oasis singer is in powerful voice on a night dedicated to one of Britpop’s finest moments.

“Me, I love nostalgia,” declared Liam Gallagher in a recent interview. Judging by the air of anticipation among the 12,500 fans gathered on a warm summer’s evening for this, the opening night of a UK tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Oasis’ debut album Definitely Maybe, so do many others.

Early on, a 25-minute set by Villanelle, the four-piece fronted by Gallagher’s 22-year-old son Gene, suggests a passing on of the baton – with their gnarly indie rock bearing more than a hint of the formative stages his father’s former band, crossed with a bit of Nirvana.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But the nostalgic tone really kicks in with Cast, the Liverpudlian band who were former Oasis tourmates. Ending off their 40-minute appearance with a crunchy rendition of their 1995 hit Alright, singer John Power, whose previous group The Las’s were a notable influence on the the songwriting of Liam’s brother Noel, tells the audience: “We can’t wait to see Liam. We were there when it was all happening and it was something else.”

Liam Gallagher performing at the Utilita Arena, Sheffield. Picture: Scott AntcliffeLiam Gallagher performing at the Utilita Arena, Sheffield. Picture: Scott Antcliffe
Liam Gallagher performing at the Utilita Arena, Sheffield. Picture: Scott Antcliffe

As the arena fills up over the next half-an-hour, it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into this evening’s presentation. On giant screens a calendar slowly counts backwards to 1994, while around the stage are references to the cover of Definitely Maybe – an inflatable globe, two flamingos, palm trees, a portrait of Burt Bacharach and a clip from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly playing on a TV screen.

Bang on 9pm the six-piece band and three backing singers emerge followed by Gallagher in a black parka and jeans, his greying hair tightly cropped. In one hand he carries a pair of maracas which later in the evening he will swap for a tambourine.

As promised, the next hour-and-a-half is entirely devoted to Oasis songs, starting with an energised Rock ’n’ Roll Star and Columbia, the first song that the band cut as a demo for Creation Records. Shakermaker is warmly received, and there’s a real urgency about Up In The Sky but then a sense of playfulness abounds in the graphics that accompany Digsy’s Dinner, the most throwaway of songs on Definitely Maybe. “Anybody fancy lasagne?” Gallagher wryly asks beforehand.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His Burnage rasp attacks the little-aired B-sides Cloudburst and I Will Believe with relish and the singer also notes how well guitarist Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs looks after a recent health scare. But perhaps the evening’s biggest surprise is sprung with Half The World Away, complete with strings, which Gallagher dedicates to his absent brother Noel.

Gene Gallagher playing with his band Villanelle at the Utilita Arena, Sheffield. Picture: Scott AntcliffeGene Gallagher playing with his band Villanelle at the Utilita Arena, Sheffield. Picture: Scott Antcliffe
Gene Gallagher playing with his band Villanelle at the Utilita Arena, Sheffield. Picture: Scott Antcliffe

Another old B-side, D’yer Wanna Be a Spaceman?, also gets the crowd singing along, and there’s further crate-digging with Fade Away, Lock All The Doors and (It’s Good) To Be Free. But it’s the hits that the audience is longing for most, and Gallagher delivers in spades with Whatever, Cigarettes & Alcohol and Married With Children, which gets the floor bouncing.

The anthems are saved for the first encore, with an electrifying Supersonic, Slide Away and Live Forever. When an enormous cheer erupts as images of Oasis heroes Bob Marley and John Lennon are shown on the screen behind him, Gallagher nods approvingly.

The parting cover of The Beatles’ I Am The Walrus, a staple of early Oasis sets, rounds off the night fittingly. Noel might have declined this opportunity to rejoin his brother to commemorate their Britpop classic, but this brilliant show more than did justice to their legacy.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.