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Review: Beady Eye @ The Showbox at the Market, Seattle
Liam Gallagher Transfixes Seattle With His Beady Eye
British rock musicians have always had a love-hate relationship with the media, and there’s no one the critics love to hate quite as much as Liam Gallagher. As frontman for Oasis he has already secured his place in the pantheons of rock history, but there remains a question mark over Liam’s every move, as if he’s still that bratty young pretender who burst onto the scene in the early Nineties. I guess when you have serious, restrained songwriter Noel Gallagher as your older brother you’re always destined to be cast as the clown.
Last night, Friday November 30, offered Liam a chance to rewrite his image, at least as far as Seattle was concerned, when he took to the stage at the Showbox at the Market with new band Beady Eye. They may have a new name, but Beady Eye are plainly Oasis in another guise – only elder statesman Noel Gallagher jumped ship, to start his new project the ‘High Flying Birds’. When your songwriter and driving force has moved on to pastures new, though, you definitely have something to prove.
Before Beady Eye brought their British rock’n'roll to the home of grunge, the Showbox was treated to Belgium’s Black Box Revelation. BBR have a strong following in Europe, and if their short-but-loud warm-up slot was any indication, then they should kick up a storm on American shores too.
Despite being a two-man band BBR make an incredible amount of noise, guitarist/singer Jan Paternoster contributing most of it while Dries Van Dijck thrashes out some impressive rhythms on the drums. If you haven’t heard them, you may want to check out their Shiver of Joy EP – a combination of Oasis-like rock attitude, squealing blues guitars, and more than a few pop tunes swimming beneath the feedback.
As good as BBR were, however, there was little doubt about the main attraction. The crowd seemed to swell in the minutes before Liam Gallagher swaggered onto the stage, as the testosterone-heavy mass of bodies pushed forward to be closer to their hero. He certainly had a lot to live up to.
Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Liam Gallagher we experienced at the Showbox sometimes felt like a shadow of his former vitriolic self. He still has that swagger – and the parka jacket – but Liam is approaching 40 now, and even he looked as if he was struggling to summon enthusiasm for his carefully-crafted, arrogant, opinionated stage persona. The only time he showed a slight flare of his former temper was over an ongoing problem with the vocal mix, and even then he played the part of the frustrated perfectionist rather than the petulant rock’n'roller. Maybe time really can tame the monsters of rock.
As for the songs, while they didn’t quite scale the heights of Oasis at their peak, they still packed plenty of punch for a band that only has one album to its name. ‘Millionaire’, ‘The Roller’ and ‘Kill For A Dream’ offered obvious highlights, but with those blown early in the show Beady Eye struggled to deliver a true crescendo at the evening’s close – although that didn’t keep them from trying. In particular a piano-driven ten minutes of Fifties-style rock suggested a potential new direction for the Oasis stalwarts, one that hasn’t already been subsumed by Noel’s influence. Clearly they’ve been taking lessons from fellow Brits The Jim Jones Revue.
Despite their pedigree, seeing Beady Eye still isn’t quite as satisfying as enjoying Oasis in their prime – but then few things are. As Liam wore his sweat-sodden parka like a badge of his rockstar prowess, you couldn’t help feeling that he’s still a long way from reaching his final act. And any band that pairs a Gallagher with Ride virtuoso Andy Bell, as well as Paul Weller collaborator Gem Archer, will always be worth your hard-earned dollars.