Concert Review: Liam Gallagher – Spark Arena, December 20, 2019

Liam Gallagher visited Auckland’s Spark Arena last night, where the former Oasis frontman poured charisma and rock ‘n’ roll attitude over a rowdy and appreciative crowd, through a mix of nostalgic Oasis hits and a selection of songs from his new album, Why Me? Why Not.

Is there anyone in the world who appreciates Liam Gallagher’s performance and ability as a rock ‘n’ roll frontman as much as he does? Despite a 90-minute set filled with an arena of screaming fans and some of the most unified crowd singing I’ve heard this year, I highly doubt it. Although Gallagher epitomises the hyper-interested-but-disinterested rock-star it was, difficult as it may be to accept, refreshing to see someone who matches their bravado with their charisma and performance.

Opening for Gallagher were Auckland four-piece, Racing, who flooded the already-packed arena with a set blending an indie-rock and stadium-rock sound that felt like the illegitimate child of The Black Keys and Depeche Mode if it were raised only listening to albums by The Darkness and The Cure. The heavy, slow-groove rock of Motel Pool was captivating in its guitar-drum combo intensity, which accentuated the growling vocals of lead singer, Ed Knowles.

This feeling continued for much of the set, but the band seemed unable to maintain the momentum of their opening few minutes, eventually falling victim to foot-tapping, grimy guitar riffs but vocals imbalanced when Knowles dove headfirst into full falsetto. I’d like to say this was just sound engineering issues, but instead was simply the result of performance fatigue. As an outspoken fan of every track on their album, Real Dancing, I was hoping for a magnified version of that soul-touching rock sound, but unfortunately it fell just short of captivating the audience and reaching the potential offered by that studio-born brilliance performed in a grand space.

Shortly afteward, the arena lights dimmed as a recorded combo of Manchester City Champions Chant and the gritty guitar of Oasis track, Fuckin’ in the Bushes, tore through the audience and immediately set the tone for the on-stage arrival of Liam Gallagher. Many people are turned off by Gallagher due to his attitude, but I’d argue that when you can consistently deliver one crowd-captivating number after the next, you can afford to have an ego with the gravitational pull of the moon.

It’s never full-blown arrogance, just in-your-face blunt-force rock-star charisma; his crowd addresses filled with digs at New Zealand – ‘what’s so new about it? Just call it Zealand and be done with it’ – the band that catapulted him to fame – ‘Oasis? I hate that band, it’s shit’ – and anyone who left before the second, one-song encore – ‘All those people running off, trying to get to the car and avoid getting stuck in traffic’. But this is part of the appeal of Gallagher, and weaves itself into his performance style to create something utterly captivating and, somehow, timelessly rock ‘n’ roll.

Performing a mix of fan-favourite Oasis numbers and songs from his new album, Why Me? Why Not., just a few seconds into Rock ‘n’ Roll Star saw the air above the floor-crowd strewn with a wild spray of audience-projectile alcohol, as chants from the crowd matched Gallagher’s pure, unfiltered on-stage charisma. The five-piece supporting band – and three incredible backing singers – were flawless, flicking between stunning piano, harsh, tearing guitar riffs and solos, and thunderous, floor-shaking drums.

The addition of the three backing singers elevated the performance of Halo and the later Oasis number, Columbia, while Gallagher drawled out his nasally, semi-slurred vocal sound without ever losing clarity in his singing or lyrics. While it’s easy to write him off as a musician reflective of his persona, this was an example of his immense talent; everything felt ingrained within him, completely void of any overworked manufactured sound, and this worked to make the concert overwhelmingly enjoyable.

Classic Oasis numbers, Morning Glory, Stand by Me and Wonderwall all gave that mid-90s hit of nostalgia without seeming tired or dull, as so many decades-later performances are often tainted by. It was, in essence, a time warp back to a time when millions of fans would pack out arenas and chant his name, and delivered that same level of freshness to the sound which made them feel timeless over time-honoured.

Gallagher is highly aware that many of his fans are carryovers from his time in Oasis, and the latter part of the gig reflected this with Acquiesce, Roll With It, Champagne Supernova and the closing Cigarettes & Alcohol. Yet it was Wall of Glass, Shockwave, Why Me? Why Not., and The River that added the necessary variation to the set that made it something far more memorable than just a simple nostalgic cover set.

With Gallagher, the past may still haunt him, but he’s clearly leveraging that into doing what he does best; making and performing brilliant music, and being absolutely unashamed in letting everyone know that’s exactly what he’s doing – in true, unapologetic, rock ‘n’ roll fashion.

~Oxford Lamoureaux

Click any image below to view a gallery of each band. All photos Veronica McLaughlin Photography.

Liam Gallagher


Liam Gallagher Setlist
Manchester City Champions Chant (recorded)
Fuckin’ in the Bushes (recorded)
Rock ‘n’ Roll Star
Wall of Glass
Come Back To Me
Morning Glory
Stand by Me
Why Me? Why Not.
The River
Gas Panic!

Roll With It
Champagne Supernova

Encore 2
Cigarettes & Alcohol