Don't look back in anger, Liam

Last updated 05:00 25/01/2014
Fairfax NZ

Stuff talked to Beady Eye at last weeks Big Day Out.

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You can only picture the smile that must have spread across Liam Gallagher's face. One minute he was rehearsing with Beady Eye, the band he formed with fellow erstwhile Oasis members Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Chris Sharrock, after big brother Noel took his bat and ball and went home in 2009. The next, Beady Eye were being asked to help save the Big Day Out after Oasis' one-time Britpop nemesis Blur had pulled out.

But as it happens, that wasn't exactly how the band saw it go down. ''Blur never came into it,'' Archer says. ''Someone said, 'What about going to Australia?' and we all went, 'Yes'.''

But you can bet Liam had a smirk to himself when he did find out.

The younger Gallagher has been laughing all the way to the bank, countless magazine covers and the top of many a chart ever since Noel, with his then seemingly endless arsenal of swaggering rock'n'roll anthems, took charge of Liam's fledgling outfit and transformed it by the mid-1990s into the Oasis millions know and love.

Yet when Noel walked out on their final incarnation five years ago, he must have known any future project of his would pale in comparison with Oasis for one key reason. He may have been the one with the tried and tested songwriting talent but Liam was the truly irreplaceable one, thanks to his rare combination of charisma, attitude and (not always, but often) vocal heroics.

''Liam's stage vibe is definitely based on an antagonistic sort of vibe,'' says Bell, who switched from playing bass for Oasis to guitar for Beady Eye.

''There's an anger to him on stage, which makes him a great frontman.''

Fellow Beady Eye guitarist Archer describes Liam as ''fearless with how he approaches any night''.

It is why the average Britpop fan who didn't demand a Blur-related refund for the Big Day Out will want at least to have a quick look at Beady Eye's set.

Well, that and the fact that, now they have established themselves with two albums of their own - 2011's occasionally exhilarating Different Gear, Still Speeding and last year's improved and more adventurous follow-up BE - they are open to playing Oasis songs.

''I have a feeling people are just going, 'F--- Beady Eye, we want Oasis back','' Liam told NME in June. ''I feel sometimes people are boycotting Beady Eye because they think the quicker I get the needle with it, the sooner I'll be going round knocking on Noel's door. They've got it all wrong.''

''It felt like a natural thing to do,'' Bell says. ''From the beginning we kinda had a word with ourselves and said, 'Well, if we do that [play Oasis songs] right off the bat, this is gonna be seen as kinda not separate enough from Oasis'.

''We've thrown a couple in now because ... it's not like we've become massive all around the world as Beady Eye. We're getting there, but I think a lot of people that come to see us do wanna hear Oasis songs. We think if we give them a couple of treats, y'know, they'll keep listening to Beady Eye.''

Still, hard acts to follow don't come much more difficult than Oasis. You can't help but wonder why the four members other than Noel decided to continue together in what was inevitably going to be a similar vein but without the skills of their principal songwriter.

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''The '09 Oasis tour, which ended up with us breaking up, was the best we ever sounded live,'' Bell explains. ''We basically wanted to preserve that kind of inter-band chemistry.

''Obviously Noel was gone, so there was a big part missing, but the rest of us were still on that stage and we wanted to keep that same musical feeling. There was no, like, 'Let's change anything'. It was just forward momentum - 'let's keep going' - which powered us through the first album.''

Do Beady Eye perhaps feel like they have something to prove? ''No ... we're still driven to make music,'' Bell says. ''It's not about proving, really. It's more just about having that drive to keep on playing. You always want more, you always want to be bigger, you always do want that top spot but you've gotta be realistic sometimes. And if it ain't happening, then is it really the end of the world? I don't think so. It's still good to be playing music.

''It's still good to be, y'know, earning a living from it.''

There is, of course, one way that they could all earn a lot of money playing music and make a lot of people very happy: by getting Oasis back together. This won't happen until the Gallagher brothers start talking to each other again; and Bell can't confirm if there is any truth to a recent rumour that they are doing so.

''I haven't heard anything about that, but if that's the case then that's great,'' he says. ''I'd be happy if they did bury the hatchet - y'know, just on a personal level it'd be a good thing.''

''There's unfinished business there,'' Liam told NME. ''People ask would I get Oasis back together. I'd do it for nowt. But if someone's going to drop a load of f---ing money, I'd do it for that too.''

- with Peter Vincent

- Sydney Morning Herald

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