Liam Gallagher + support Richard Ashcroft | Review
Belsonic, Belfast • Saturday 16 June ’18
Words: Stewart Robson • Photography: Tremaine Gregg
It was glorious. It was riotous. It was rock ‘n’ roll at its finest. Liam Gallagher returned to the Emerald Isle on Friday evening bringing his summer round of the ‘As You Were’ tour to Dublin. The setlist was enough to whet the appetite of the Belfast crowd that turned up in their thousands to Ormeau Park on Saturday as the iconic frontman treated his followers to a catalogue of classics as well as songs from his debut solo record.
The sun was beaming, unlike the rain-drenched disco of Chic the night before. Perhaps it stayed away after Liam tweeted earlier in the day for it to, for want of a better phrase, politely do one. Only Liam Gallagher could generate over 19,000 likes for a three-word phrase concerning the weather. No doubt it’ll continue to rise.
What continued to rise was the crowd’s enthusiasm as the time drew closer for the Burnage-born Gallagher to grace the stage. There was a small matter to deal with first. That was, trying to preserve your voice for the rest of the night. That proved to be unbearably difficult, especially when you have another Britpop icon playing directly before the headline act. These anthems needed to be sung.
Richard Ashcroft, backed by a full band and a manikin wearing a personalised Northern Ireland football jersey, belted out timeless songs from his days as The Verve’s frontman including the impeccable ‘Sonnet’, ‘Lucky Man’ and set-closer ‘Bittersweet Symphony’. Ashcroft dedicated his set to George Best, visiting the late footballer’s home earlier in the day as well. A legend paying tribute to another. He could have had his own headline gig at Belsonic. It was sublime from start to finish and had revellers putting their arms round each other’s shoulders, embracing in all the glory.
But there was no greater glory than the sight of Mr Gallagher walking towards a stage. The screen on stage lit up, as did the crowd. With his signature swagger, Liam walked out to a crowd with such a varied age range. It’s refreshing to know that guitar music is still adored by so many and filters from grandparents, to parents and to kids. This was ‘RKID’s’ night.
Kicking off with ‘Definitely Maybe’ opener, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’, Liam’s voice sounded stronger than ever. Followed by the pulsating ‘Morning Glory’, it was a mammoth start as every member of the crowd danced in the palm of his hand. Flares were lit, beer was thrown, clothes came off. I’m not saying that I condone any of these things, but it just added to the magnitude of the day and the utter feeling of euphoria.
Singles from ‘As You Were’ got just as much of a singalong as the thumping triple beat of ‘Greedy Soul’ came straight off the back of the 1996 track. Lead single ‘Wall of Glass’ continued the rowdiness while the Oasis-esque ‘For What It’s Worth’ brought the tempo down slightly but generated one of the biggest sing-alongs of the night with lighters and arms raised to the sky. It was beautiful.
The set was heavy-laden with Oasis songs. In my opinion that could never be a criticism. If you were to do a vox pop of everyone who attended the gig, there would be no doubt that’s what drew them to the south Belfast venue, despite ‘As You Were’ being a victorious achievement. Die-hard Gallagher lovers would have been delighted with the inclusion of ‘Bring It On Down’ and ‘Listen Up’, a track from B-side album, ‘The Masterplan’. Even if you weren’t totally familiar with the songs, it seemed that people weren’t afraid to delve into the unknown with open arms. Anthemic mastery with ‘D’Ya Know What I Mean’ thrown in for good measure.
Two more songs from ‘As You Were’ were played towards the end of the first part of the set, including ‘I’ve All I Need’, with Liam defiantly singing, “There’s no time for looking back, thanks for all, your support.” It’s a reminder of the singer’s turbulent personal circumstances, especially over the last number of years and how he has come out the other end by reinventing himself but remaining just as Liam as ever.
‘Whatever’ magnificently closed the 12-song set and had every person in the field with their arms raised and bursting with undeniable adoration. It has always seemed that Liam Gallagher and Oasis are more than just about the music. There is a unifying bond between music, culture and the stresses of daily life that have encapsulated a generation and continues to do so. This song is a perfect symbol of being able to be and do, whatever you like, no matter what criticisms people might fire at you. How fitting that Liam Gallagher stood proudly after turmoil to make this song more apt than ever before.
However, it is the five-song encore that makes this night one of the greatest spectacles to grace Belfast in recent history. Five Oasis songs, thousands of fans and one leader assisted by ‘Bonehead’ from the original Oasis line-up.
‘Supersonic’, ‘Some Might Say’, ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’, ‘Live Forever’ and ‘Wonderwall’. I mean, what can I say? It was raucous, it was raw, it had emotion and it was real. Just incredible.
Liam said that he was off to enjoy a Guinness because he’d ‘behaved himself’ in Dublin. He more than deserved that pint and everyone in that field wouldn’t have hesitated buying him another. Until next time RKID. As you were.