Beady Eye Live on Letterman
The Ed Sullivan Theater
New York , New York
June 22, 2011
Usually when a big group breaks up, the main lyricist is the singer, and he/she goes on to a solo career that is similar in scope and acclaim to what the original band had achieved. What happens when the main voice doesn't write the majority of the lyrics? What happens when the band is Oasis, the Manchester, England quartet who is known as much for the infighting between the brothers Gallagher as they are for their Beatlesque melodies? Noel and Liam Gallagher's relationship is one that is almost like that of the driving forces behind another English band, The Kinks, whose leaders, the Davies brothers (Ray and Dave) always seem to be at each other's throats. In the case of Oasis, Noel Gallagher wrote the majority of the songs, while Liam Gallagher penned a few minor singles ("Songbird" and "I'm Outta Time") as well as a number of album cuts and B-sides. When Noel left Oasis in August 2009, Liam vowed to continue making music. This immediately brought forth the question: Could he make it without his brother and chief lyricist?
Liam Gallagher had already answered that question with his first new offering since the split. In early 2011, Beady Eye's debut CD, Different Gear, Still Speeding
was released by Dangerbird Records. As any fan would hope, the Beady Eye CD sounded very much like Oasis, featuring songs that pay homage to The Beatles
(particularly John Lennon
) with a pure, wild-spirited rock 'n' roll sound that borrows liberally from Rolling Stones
, The Who
, The Jam and The Kinks. Beady Eye, in the studio, is comprised of Gallagher on vocals, guitarists Gem Archer and Andy Bell, and drummer Chris Sharrock, with each member adding other instrumentation. While on tour, bassist Jeff Wooton and keyboardist Matt Jones provide the additional rhythm and sound layers.
On this night in New York City, Gallagher and Beady Eye performed a special one-hour Internet-broadcast concert for CBS' Live On Letterman
series. Tickets were by invitation only and the "specialness" (for lack of a better word) of the event was evident from the very beginning. The lucky audience members filed into the small theater and were seated around the television cameras. Shortly before the concert began, Gallagher's wife Nicole Appleton and their son Gene arrived, causing members of the audience to have their seating arrangements shuffled to accommodate them and the other members of their entourage.
Once everyone was situated, the band entered from the rear of the orchestra. It was an entrance that brought to mind the arrival of a world champion boxer to the ring. Gallagher even had a towel over his Beatles style shag-cut head. The band then launched into a ten-song set that would have made a young John Lennon very proud. It was raucous, rowdy and rockin.' From the first chords of "Four Letter Word," with its Pete Townshend-inspired riffs and psychedelia, Gallagher and the guys had the crowd eating out of their hands. Stopping briefly to kiss his wife and son, Gallagher continued in his prize fighter persona. He bobbed and weaved around the microphone as though he were looking for just the right angle to land a knockout punch. During the brief pauses between songs he fiddled with his towel and occasionally bantered with members of audience, offering high-fives and mugging for every camera.
The rest of the set was rounded out with "Bring The Light," "Kill For A Dream," "Standing On The Edge Of The Noise," "The Beat Goes On" and "Wigwam." Each song sounded both fresh (as each was a new composition) and like an old friend. These songs, at various moments, brought to mind "Rock 'N' Roll Star," "Supersonic," "Live Forever" and so many other Oasis songs, as well as all of Gallagher's heroes who have inspired him.
At the end of the set, Gallagher dedicated "The Morning Son" to New York City, stating that the city is "the only fuckin' place that truly blows my mind every time." In the end, it was Gallagher and Beady Eye that blew the audience's collective minds. Beady Eye is a musical force to be reckoned with. The concert was a joyous celebration of Brit rock and pop. Oasis, in name, may be no more, but the same cannot be said for Liam Gallagher. It really says something about both unbridled talent (while adding an exclamation point to the cult of personality that is rock 'n' roll) and the worship of one's influences. It is also a sign of greatness when someone's muse and music are so iconic and their new work is so strong, that they can copy themselves without sounding derivative. Through Beady Eye, the fans at the show were privy to a lot more than just a glimpse of what Liam Gallagher has to offer now and in the future.Photo Credit
All Photos: Christine Connallon