The stage setup — sparse and basic — screamed rock & roll. On the left was a Vox AC30 on top of a Marshall 4×12 cab. A Mellotron on top of a dais draped with a white cloth that says “Rock ‘N’ Roll” was sitting beside it. In the middle was a drum kit with “As You Were” emblazoned on the bass drum. A Fender bass amp head on top of a classic Ampeg 8×10 enclosure and a Marshall half stack rounded out the back-to-basics arrangement.
And then there was the 50-foot stage backdrop that simply says “Liam Gallagher.” Just to drive home the point.
It was a little over half past eight when the lights inside the MOA Arena were dimmed, Monday night. The crowd hooted and hollered in anticipation. Chants of “Liam! Liam!” reverberated throughout the venue. I remained quiet. “They just turned the lights off. It’s not like Liam Gallagher’s gonna walk out on stage right away. Jaysus,” I thought to myself.
But then “Fuckin’ In The Bushes” blared over the house PA and that’s when the world went into slow motion.
Seasoned session/studio drummer Dan McDougall walked out together with bass player Drew McConnell. Jay Mehler followed, wearing his trademark black sunglasses he’s been wearing since his Kasabian days.
And then there he was.
Liam motherfookin’ Gallagher.
Clad in the same dark grey cagoule he wore at his solo debut earlier this year in Manchester, Liam took the stage with the charisma of a thousand suns in his inimitable easy-geezer ape walk, nodding his head and looking at the crowd with an intense gaze.
The world sped up again. Standing behind the mic with aplomb, hands crossed on his back, Liam opened with “Rock N’ Roll Star” and “Morning Glory.” I was transported back to the nineties, when I discovered the greatest rock band of my generation on a P50 cassette tape from SM’s now-defunct Record Bar section. I had goosebumps all over.
I watched enraptured as Liam sang 17 songs over the course of about an hour, a roughly half-and-half mix of new songs from his upcoming album “As You Were” and Oasis non-singles. No fancy lighting, no dancers, no props. Just pure, unadulterated rock & roll.
Liam Gallagher and company rocked harder than any Instagram-generation band with “Greedy Soul” and “I Get By.” Hearing the swagger of “Wall Of Glass” live made me feel like I was punched in the gut and thrown against a… wall of glass. “For What It’s Worth” sounded like something John Lennon would have written if he were still kicking. “Chinatown” mellowed me out while stirring my soul.
A lot of people were disappointed with Liam not performing more of Oasis’s hits. This is Manila after all. The typical concertgoer expects chart-toppers and songs they can find on a karaoke bar song list. Liam did throw Oasis fans a bone in the end, though, performing “Be Here Now” followed by a stripped-down version of “Wonderwall” for his encore. For those who went to see the Liam Gallagher in person and hear his latest work, however, that was just the icing on an otherwise very satisfying rock & roll cake.