Beady Eye at First Avenue, 12/05/11
December 5, 2011
At some point on Monday night, considering that Liam Gallagher even knew exactly where he was, he might have looked across the street from First Avenue to the Target Center with a sense of dismay. For those type of arenas were where Liam was accustomed to playing with his brother Noel at his side in Oasis (in fact, that was where Oasis last played in Minneapolis in 2008). But now, with the rest of that band, but crucially not his songwriting brother, in tow, his new outfit Beady Eye were playing to a less than half-full Mainroom at First Ave. And while it was indeed a thrill to see one of the biggest rock stars in the world take to a stage he hasn't performed on since Brit Pop's heyday of 1995, once that initial rush wore off during their 70-minute set, we were left with songs that sounded more like late-period Oasis B-sides than indelible stadium anthems.
After the very public dissolution of Oasis, Liam immediately poached the other members of the band (Andy Bell, Gem Archer, and Chris Sharrock, with Jeff Wootton recruited to play bass) before his brother Noel had a chance to, forming Beady Eye from the still smoking embers of what once was the biggest rock band in the world. And if you are at all familiar with the last couple Oasis records, Beady Eye carry on a pale continuation of that fading sound; boozy, indistinct pub songs that might hold your interest for a second or two, but ultimately end up rather forgettable.
But that sure didn't stop Gallagher from taking the stage with a cocksure self-confidence, strutting around as if he owned (and sold-out) the place. As soon as the music kicked in, you could tell immediately by how high his vocals were placed in the mix that this was without question Liam's show, and the other guys just served as window dressing. After Liam mumbled something about "these songs aren't any old folk songs. Now you've been told," the band launched into the propulsive "Four Letter Word" that just sounded muddy and bland. That would be a consistent theme running throughout the set, with the vocal-heavy mix causing these marginal songs to start to sound indistinguishable.
After a tepid version of "Millionaire," Liam addressed the crowd, asking "How we feeling anyway? It's pretty fuckin' cold, innit?" Perhaps it was the cold evening which caused Gallagher to leave his knee-length green trench coat and paisley scarf on all evening, resulting in him (and his anorak) being drenched in sweat by evenings end. But that surely must have been caused by all of the lights on stage, and not from any strenuous activity on Liam's behalf, because he stood with his hands clasped confidently behind his back, just like he did with Oasis, trading in his trusty tambourine for a towel meant to combat the flood of perspiration. What a drag it is getting old, indeed.
After the Lyla-sounding "Three Ring Circus," the band tore through an enjoyable, brash version of "The Roller" which got the meager crowd as into it as they were going to get. And then it was time to talk football. "How many City fans we have here tonight? Manchester City fans? This goes out to you, then." And what followed was one of the better songs of the night, with the bluesy stomp of "Bring The Light." But the band couldn't keep that momentum going, as Liam joked, "We're going to do a slow one here before one of us hurts ourselves." And the pensive "Kill For A Dream" followed, and while it had echoes of "Champagne Supernova" in it's wistful melody, the track lacked both the soul or spirit of the original.
The set dragged quite a bit towards the end, with both the band and the crowd losing interest in the material. It would have been the perfect moment to bust out a classic Oasis track, but instead we got "Man Of Misery," a bonus-track to Beady Eye's debut. Bonus tracks are rarely good, if they were they would have been on the album in the first place. And this one certainly wasn't. And after an extended jam on "The Morning Son," Liam told the audience, "All right Minneapolis, this is our last one. Nice one coming out and paying attention. It's appreciated." After a cursory version of "Wigwam," the band was off.
After a brief break, which featured a half-hearted chant of "Liam" from the crowd, the band returned for a two-song encore that seemed obligatory and didn't add much to the performance. Their last track was a World Of Twist cover, "Sons Of The Stage," and actually ended up being a feisty way to end the night, showing what Liam can do when he actually has some good material to sing.
But, once that initial thrill of seeing the mercurial Liam Gallagher on First Avenue's stage wore off, all that we were left with, sadly, was a pale imitation of Oasis' better moments, like we have been for years now with the band. Fair play to Liam and the lads for continuing to make music and not letting the public squabbles of the brothers Gallagher stand in the way of them doing what they do. But perhaps if they would have taken more time to put together a better record and let the buzz come naturally instead of trying to get out of the gate first before Noel, they wouldn't be playing mediocre sets to half-full clubs filled with fans who would rather be hearing Oasis songs anyway.
Critic's Bias: I picked Oasis over Blur back in the day, but have come to love Blur more over the years.
The Crowd: Older, seasoned Brit Pop fans mixed with a few younger kids who perhaps never got a chance to see Oasis.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Liam is the perfect anti-hero."
Random Notebook Dump: The Belgian duo the Black Box Revelation opened the night with a fiery, high-octane set of garage rock that got the night off to a boisterous start. While they were limited to only a half-hour, the band torched the place with a storming, raucous performance.
Four Letter Word
Beatles And Stones
Two Of A Kind
Three Ring Circus
In The Bubble With A Bullet
Bring The Light
Standing On The Edge Of The Noise
Kill For A Dream
The Beat Goes On
Man Of Misery
The Morning Son
World Outside My Room (Encore)
Sons Of The Stage (World Of Twist)(Encore)