The barge hosting Liam Gallagher’s ‘Down By The Thames’ live stream is just approaching Tower Bridge, the London landscape looking like a postcard, when he tears into emotional ballad ‘Once’. In a year that’s been grim at the best of times, it’s a moment that gladdens the soul.
The kind of idea that one might have conjured after a late night on the beer, the gig – Liam cruising down the river while belting out bangers – promises big hitters from both of his Number One solo albums, 2017’s ‘As You Were’ and last year’s ‘Why Me? Why Not.’, as well as stone-cold career classics. And while Oasis don’t have the best track record on water (their infamous drunken ferry brawl on the way to Amsterdam 1994 was a particularly stormy chapter in the band’s history), it’s immediately clear that this is going to be one to remember.
It’s as good a time as any to pull out a few surprises, and he gets things going with his first-ever solo performance of Oasis’ ‘Hello’, which coincides with a picture-perfect London skyline. “We live in the shadows / We had the chance and threw it away / And it’s never gonna be the same / ‘Cause the years are falling by like the rain”: the words carry extra poignancy as we head towards a – surely – brighter new year.
As the barge cuts through the calm waters, Liam and his band (which features original Oasis guitarist Bonehead) get straight into 2017 solo single ‘Wall Of Glass’; the tune already feels like a familiar friend in his catalogue. Panoramic cameras cut to the O2 Arena, the venue Liam was due to play earlier in the year for members of the NHS staff and key workers. While that wasn’t possible due to the pandemic, you can’t help but feel LG has made the most of the circumstances.
Flowing into ‘Halo’, he continues in his signature pose: rooted to the spot, hands behind the back stance. The solo anthems sound bolder than ever before: when he sneers “You sold me right up the river” on solo cut ‘Shockwave’, he could be at Maine Road, Knebworth or the Pyramid Stage. Or, you know, a boat on the river Thames.
Inevitably, the pounding ‘The River’, from ‘Why Me? Why Not.’, is cued up as the barge continues its voyage. With Liam donning shades and a cosy-looking winter hat, we’re then treated to the iconic, soaring opening riff of ‘Morning Glory’; it’s a nostalgic and deeply emotive moment. We’re missing fans, flares, hurled pints and crowd chants, but this is without doubt the next best thing.
After the generation-defining ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ and its lyrics, “Is it worth the aggravation / To find yourself a job when there’s nothing worth working for?”, Liam rants to the camera: “That’s for you, fuckin Rishi wishy washy – and fuckin’ Doris.” What would a Liam Gallagher show be without some drama?
Bonehead ensures that ‘Headshrinker’ features its trademark flourishes, and we end on the double blast of ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Champagne Supernova’. Between the tracks, LG takes another chance to have a rant, though this time the victim is no less than the illuminated London Eye: “Not arsed about you, big wheel – give a fuck. Lit up? Round? Fuck off – we’re out of here. Good night!” An end-credits performance of his emotive new festive single ‘All You’re Dreaming Of’ caps off the night.
The Thames has seen its fair share of incendiary moments, from The Sex Pistols’ turbulent 1977 trip to mark the release of ‘God Save The Queen’ to the legendary yowls of “I live by the river” in The Clash’s ‘London Calling’. Liam Gallagher has added to the story in his own indelible way.