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Outside the venue, a tout is hustling the queue: “Oasis, tickets for Oasis.” If Liam Gallagher caught him saying that, there would be trouble. Beady Eye are not Oasis, as the frontman has been belligerently insisting . They might look like Oasis, and sound like Oasis, and feature all the members of Oasis apart from erstwhile leader and chief songwriter Noel Gallagher, but – let’s be clear about this – they are definitely not Oasis.
However, I am not convinced their fans have quite grasped this. Tonight’s audience is mainly thirtysomething men who presumably came of musical age in Britpop, dressed in parkas and zip-up jackets, sporting tatty, thinning Beatle haircuts. “Come on!” they shout in anticipation. “Let’s ’ave it!”
As warmly as the audience greets the band, it’s hard not to feel some sympathy. The six-piece (live ranks swelled by session bassist and keyboard player) have a huge task ahead to establish themselves as a creative outfit in their own right. They have made a good start with an album that is better than any recent Oasis offering. And there is a palpable thrill in the air as they launch into aggressive rocker 'Four Letter Word', with Liam’s big-chested voice booming out.
But, as the gig progresses, the limitations of this venture become ever more apparent. Liam stands stock still, hands behind his back, staring blankly into the crowd, like a bouncer at his own gig. But his static pose loses its impact without the songs that he was once able to stand in the midst of and that gifted him his iconic status. The key to Oasis’s relationship with its audience were the hits people had taken to their hearts. Oasis gigs were big singalongs.
Starved of familiar anthems, the crowd doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with itself. People raise their voices in occasional snatches of the more obvious choruses then fall silent in the verses, or maybe cheer, throw beer, and chant “Liam! Liam!”. Its like watching Oasis play someone else’s set.
When Beady Eye really rock out, on songs such as 'Bring the Light' and the sledgehammer 'Standing on the Edge of the Noise', they almost pummel you into submission. But, when they go into a dreary mid-tempo plod like 'Kill For a Dream', with Liam slouching, hands in pockets, and nobody else on stage moving a muscle, you have to wonder why we should care about a band who don’t seem to care much themselves.
For a group with such open admiration for the Beatles, they just have no grooviness at all, no instrumental daring, no experimental urges, no real point to their existence. It feels like the manifestation of the death of rock, plodding, one-dimensional, old-fashioned, loud guitar music, the echo of an echo of something original.
Only Liam’s charisma sustains it, that big voice belting out: “I’m the last of a dying breed.” Standing on the drum riser, staring into a crowd far smaller than the stadium audiences he entertained with Oasis, he almost dares you to disown him.
His typically truculent parting words are: “Nice one for coming out, and we’ll see you again if you can be arsed.”
I’m not sure if I could be. Beady Eye are going to have to raise their game if they want people to care about their future, and not just their singer’s past.