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Sunday, June 19, 2011
Review: Beady Eye @ The Metro, Chicago
In its time, Oasis was credited/indicted for many things: Killing indie music (the case is made in the recent Creation Records documentary), breaking Brit-Pop in the States, saving English rock, ruining mod, saving mod, making popular rock listenable again, proving that rock music was dead. On most counts, it was guilty.
Oasis approached indie as rock fans, not as art school grads like their shoegaer labelmates—the Manchester band's big idea was to make rock as big and bold and timeless as the best bands ever. It started out as a Sex Pistols/Beatles hybrid and gradually let the Pistols bit fade. Many of the criticisms of one of Brit rock's biggest band of the ’90s—that it was retro, thuggish, and had long songs in which often little happened, dopey rhymey lyrics—haven't held up over time. In fact, seeing Beady Eye, which is basically a spin-off of the defunct Oasis doing Liam Gallagher's songs with Andy Bell and Gem Archer on guitars—reminded me and friends of some of the things that were grand about Oasis—its modernity (it never really sounded retro, it sounded of the moment), its epic scale (every tune seems to shoot for the stars), and its risk-taking that often fell completely flat (the Mancunian's have more than a few dodgy tunes, many on the album Be Here Now.) Bands that reach higher fall harder.
Beady Eye is not much like Oasis in many ways—there's no fat on the tunes, which are often just a couple very catchy, familiar-sounding riffs strung together in expert ways with short killer guitar solos. The scale of the songs on the band's debut is small—the vibe is dreamlike and the point-of-view all new Liam—specifically Liam coming out of some kind of mystical, vaguely romantic haze and finding things looking pretty good. And Beady Eye, rather than playing for timelessness, plays more often for the hipster, the record collector and the (mod) music head. It's sound is more like a psych pop mixtape someone left in your car, expertly wrote with lyrics you can't quite remember but sounds you love. Is it a throwback or a step forward? I think time will tell.
Saturday night, the six-piece band played an early show at the Metro. Taking the stage in a Union Jack coat from his clothing line Pretty Green, Liam (sometimes bratty and moody on stage when his brother was present) was genuinely appreciative of the crowd, saying nice things about our town ("You got yourself a nice little city" he observed, having seen it with "eyes open" this time), dedicating a song to Al Capone and asking "How do we sound? I reckon Okay." midway through the set. All proof that this is Liam's labor of love—and he's loving it.
Kicking off with "Four Letter Word" (a kind of John Barryesque rocker punctuated with Andy Bell solos), into the Who-referencing "Beatles and Stones," the band's combination of honky-tonk piano jamming and twin guitars was moderated behind Gallagher's upfront vocals. By sets end, the guitars would come in full force. Note to soundmen: this is a brilliant way to get the audience involved and bring up their adrenaline gradually.
By track three, the Ride-like "Millionaire," I was smitten with the drumming of Chris Sharrock—who is truly the right man for the psych-retro-Brit-rock job—he even unleashed a stick twirl in the breakdown which made up for Gallagher's overally nasally vocal. By tune's end, the Metro crowd was smitten, too.
Beady Eye embrace psych not as noodling musos but as pop fans and this couldn't be any more clear on "For Anyone," which recalls the best moments of the oft underappreciated Hollies. Next, in "The Roller," the Beady Eye gang had their most Lennon-esque moment. By the time the band got to "Bring the Light," about seven tunes deep, its Brit-boogie had settled in like accepting a joy ride out with the bad boys. But it was also clear that the epics, the broadly affecting emotional pull of Morning Glory weight would never come. The Beady Eye tunes are a great a little rush, packed with more thrilling musicianship and Liam's dream-inspired vox, but they're not sing-a-longs, they're not bar-closers—I wonder if will we will fall in love with them in the long-run?
Still, few bands on this side of the Atlantic can perform with the kind of confidence we saw last night on the Metro strage—Beady Eye had the swagger to end its regular set with "The Morning Son," a song about waking up to your kid. After the baroque pop of "The Beat Goes On" midway through an encore which also included an cover of World of Twist's "Sons of Stage," Gallagher said "Thanks for coming out and having a look." Shockingly mature and patient from a singer better known for ridiculous boasting—but still rock 'n' roll. Maybe a short tour of the States is more conducive to civility or maybe someone has gained some perspective.
Via L4e / Source: timeoutchicago.com
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