Down By The River Thames

This could be the best thing he has done in some time. It was fresh, it had attitude and to break it down to the sum of its parts, it made me happy.

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“Beep boop”. The scanning of the ticket barcode. The €8 euro pints served in plastic vessels. That endless line to the jacks, walking shoulder-first through a sea of like-minded individuals.

The usual fanfare has been cast aside as we settle into the waning days of 2020. The new normal is now just the normal and my Saturday night has comprised of eating Wowburger on my couch, cross-legged next to my pet cat; “Socks”.

Except… it isn’t a normal Saturday. For the first time in months, someone is going to play music for me. Live. Well, kind of…

Being for the benefit of Mister Gallagher, there will be a show tonight on the River Thames. In this dystopian present, I logged onto Liam Gallagher’s eponymous website and handed over twenty euros for a ticket to his one-time live stream concert. Which is being held on a floating barge, pushed by a tugboat, directly down the middle of the Thames.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know it isn’t live. It’s heavy cinematography, perfect mixing and slick edits make that known. I don’t think it’s even trying to hide them, to be honest. It is, however, an organized event, which takes place at a predetermined time, in which you must purchase a ticket prior to the show. And if you don’t? Well, you’re shit outta luck.

After entering the stream, I was introduced to a loading screen and a count down timer before the screen eventually faded to black only to rise from the darkness to display the skyline of a locked-down London Town at dusk.

The concert has begun, I gleefully opened the first of a six-pack of Heineken, perhaps if I really wanted the full experience I should have sourced one of those plastic containers to drink from, but it is what it is.

The show begins. Liam, donning a trademark parka, maracas, baker boy hat and tinted sunglasses. An obvious nod to John Lennon. Which isn’t a secret, he has been making this nod since the early days of Oasis. To the left of him was a simple stage full of regular-offender rock’n’roll paraphernalia; Marshall Heads, Vox AC-30s, Fender Rhodes and Hammond organs, and a guitar selection featuring tenants of the top shelves of Denmark Street.

More valuable than any vintage gear is the man standing next to Liam. Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs; an Oasis original member, which may have been confronting the elephant in the room, suggesting slow progress towards the inevitable reunion.

Tonight though, It’s a rock and roll show and I am here. Hook, line and sinker.

Let me tell you, this concert sonically is impressive; the drum sound, the mixing of the backing vocals, the occasional fading in of external artefacts such as helicopter droning and sparse applause from the banks of the river, it’s a feast for the ears. The true winner, however, is the visuals. Oh my. The camera angels, highlighted and embossed by stellar-minimalist lighting, is second to none.

If you know London, actually, even if you don’t, you are aware of its many bridges which span across the Thames. The most famous of them, being tower bridge; looming in the approaching distance throughout the first half of the show. I’m thinking the entire time of what song he will play first as the boat glides underneath its middle arch. Against all my suspicions, he chooses “Once”, a slow number from the 2019 album “Why Me? Why Not?”. How fitting it is, to see the condensation from his breath obscure the architecture of the building behind him. To me, this is the peak of tonight’s experience.

Besides the obvious bone he throws us throughout of various Oasis hits, the true winner tonight is Liam’s solo material. Not too dissimilar in construction and timbre to his previous band. It does, at moments, break out of that standard box. That “meat and potatoes” rock sound and show that there are diamonds in the rough.

This could be the best thing he has done in some time, it was fresh, it had attitude and to break it down to the sum of its parts, it made me happy. It made me happy to be part of something live again. In a roundabout way. The thought that there was simultaneously other people sitting in their living rooms, witnessing the same thing as me, sharing a moment.

I felt like I was virtually walking shoulder first with like-minded individuals into the future…

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