Liam Gallagher didn’t want a solo career. “I hate that fucking word,” he said earlier this year, referring to his solitary musical venture in an interview with Radio X.
Gallagher represents truth and he also represents hope. He’ll argue the latter point perhaps, but even the most cursory glance over the Oasis back catalogue presents the search toward a better future, a need to grasp life in the moment, to believe in something a little more cosmic than day-to-day life. And though Noel may have written the songs, it was Liam who gave them a voice – a spirit, of sorts, which is exactly what’s returned this year with the release of his debut album As You Were and, more importantly, the return of Liam Gallagher: the top pupil of unrelenting faith in true life.
The album – 15 tracks on the deluxe edition, two of which strangely don’t include a Gallagher writing credit – isn’t bad. But that’s not to say it’s good, either. Instead As You Were is a confident yet mild collection of songs that’s mostly better than Beady Eye but a running leap from Oasis. It’s fine and forgettable all in the same listen. What is memorable however is how As You Were became a vehicle upon which Gallagher could project and present from. Promoted a staggering 14 months before its release, As You Were allowed Liam to have a permanent soap-box this year.
Had that platform been given to any other male musician from the British rock (or pop) world, it’s unlikely they would have been able to maintain a consistently entertaining, enlightening presence. Take Ed Sheeran, for example, a living dishcloth who claimed 2017 would be “all Ed, all year”. He may have been omnipresent, but his presence was also impotent – tied up in little more than sales figures. Gallagher meanwhile occupied an essential space. Performing first and foremost at the benefit concert for victims of the Manchester bombing in May, his rendition of “Don’t Look Back In Anger” brought a heartbroken city together while also encouraging acts of good faith and non-violence. The song has since become what Noel Gallagher has called an “anthem of defiance”.
It’s hard to quantify whether that performance galvanized Gallagher’s press cycle into something more impactful, but at the least it set him right in the court of public opinion. From then onward he appeared as comedically brutal as he did a spokesperson of sorts for the topic of the day. Whether it’s being “the voice of reason” on Brexit or his recent campaign for climate change, Gallagher has spoken truths this year that have often been politically on point – something that was always missing from Oasis but he has achieved simply by being nothing other than himself.
Plenty of other musicians have reacted to the current political climate this year, many of them in more impactful ways than Liam Gallagher. To say he’s gone above and beyond would be hyperbole and a discredit to the crucial work of other artists in 2017. In spite of this however, he has emerged this year as perhaps the sole or at least most prominent voice among any British musician in his age group to not be talking absolute smack – something that’s important when you consider his core audience. In another world, his reemergence could have been messy (hello Noel Gallagher and his branding of Jeremy Corbyn as a communistor believing misogyny doesn’t exist). Thankfully, the return of Liam Gallagher this year been anything but that.
As always, Liam has also provided provided light entertainment in addition to being more coherent than the Prime Minister has regarding Brexit. An “Isn’t it good be alive cmon you fuckers as you were LG x” tweet here, an unlimited fountain of radio and TV and print interviews there. In a dark year, reporting on Liam Gallagher has seemed less like an unrelenting overload of Oasis coverage and more like a relief from whatever other fuckery has exploded onto the world on that given day.
If you listen to what he says – maybe to the point of living inside the Gallagher stream of consciousness and feeling empowered as a result, or even if you’re simply repulsed – there’s no denying Liam Gallagher’s credibility. He may be the action figure of the genre – a bold caricature that as much as people have tried cannot be replicated – but he’s also never less than himself. And, somehow, speaking with the demeanour of his figure as much as he does the words coming out of his mouth, that person is the embodiment of believing in something better. Whether or not the music is any good, the spirit of Liam Gallagher is something we needed in 2017. He’s been a strong and essential presence: floating in and out, saying some purposeful or ridiculous shit, then leaving you As You Were.