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Monday, September 19, 2011
Can Liam Gallagher and Co Take the Heat?
A Beady Eye gig in Abu Dhabi in the aftermath of the Arab Spring (and very much in the middle of the Arab summer)? Andy Buchan finds out if Liam Gallagher and company can take the heat...
'I'm playing a tent in the middle of the desert?' asked Liam at 6am as he drove past Abu Dhabi's admittedly tent-like Flash Forum soon after landing. With the temperature already soaring past 30 degrees and the rumour mill suggesting that ticket sales have been slower than a hungover sloth, it's not the most auspicious of starts, for what should really be a dream gig for Liam.
His beloved team, Manchester City, have got Sheikh Mansour's billions to thank for their footballing ascension, and with event organisers Flash state owned, he's effectively playing a home gig. And let's not beat around the bush here - as much as Beady Eye have been garnering impressive reviews this summer, in the relative musical backwaters of Abu Dhabi, the pre-gig hype is fully focussed on Liam's shoulders.
And it seems to be showing - with the crowd swollen to a respectable 3,000 people thanks to a raft of complimentary tickets, the band quietly enter the backstage area. Where once Liam might have shadow-boxed with Noel, or swigged from a bottle of JD, he's now pacing a furrow into the concrete floor, nervously supping from a cup of tea and half-stretching and meditating.
While it might be a new band name, it's an instantly familiar reaction once he's onstage and in that familiar pose with his knees bent, throat arced upwards, the words forced not into the mic, but through it. But for the opening two songs, '4 Letter Word' and 'Beatles and Stones', it's all a little underwhelming: the growl-sung vocals are too high in the mix and Liam - shock, horror - looks less than his over-confident self. Maybe it's the heat; maybe it's being at the fag-end of a long tour.
By the time 'The Roller' kicks in, though, Liam is strutting around the stage like a peacock on day release, poking his tongue out at the front row. And his exertions (and the swampy, 80% humidity) are showing as his not-so-pretty-green jacket is now rocking a sweaty, patchy, camouflage look.
From there, the band hit the heights: 'Bring The Light' is extended into a honky-tonk work-out that Jools Holland would be proud of, there's sing-a-long euphoria ('Kill For A Dream') and cosmic, sixties rock ('Wigwam'). The only low-point is 'The Beat Goes On' which falls flat, partly as, at best, it's a bad pastiche of a Beatles B-side and partly due to the crowd - front row tickets cost well over £ 100 making this the poshest pit in history, with pristine Louboutins politely rubbing toes with sandy Converse.
As they've done all summer, their cover of World of Twists's 'Sons Of The Stage' closes proceedings, with Liam offering virtually his first words of the night: 'Nice one for coming out tonight, nice one.' It might not be a classic statement, or a classic finale, but the baggy beats are tailor made for the largely over-30 crowd, as grown men are foisted onto shoulders and dance moves that were already out of date in '95, drunkenly thrown. Wipe the sweat from your eyebrows and close your eyes, and, just for a second, this could have been prime-Oasis territory, and not Beady Eye in a tent in the middle of the desert.
Words by Andy Buchan
via L4e/ source Clashmusic.com
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