Liam Gallagher John Squires Just Another Rainbow

Liam Gallagher and John Squire at Kentish Town Forum | Short but stratospheric from Manc messiahs

John Squire has got Liam Gallagher singing the blues – and it’s revitalised them both. Here's our review of their Kentish Town Forum gig.

John Squire might have the luscious locks and Led Zepp licks of an axe hero from Almost Famous, but last time I checked it’s not 1973.

And whilst that seminal flick saw whippersnapper writer William Miller delivering dispatches from the rock’n’roll frontline oblivious to what smartarses were saying on the internet, because, y’know, it hadn’t been properly invented yet, these days music reviewing doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

Therefore, it’s nigh on impossible to assess tonight’s gig – the penultimate show of the Manc messiahs’ UK lap of honour for their chart-topping, self-titled collaborative album – without mentally referencing what broadsheet big noses and social media sages have already had a whinge about.

Clocking in at under an hour, the show is way too short for a premium £75 ticket price, they’ve argued. Why haven’t the lads padded the set out with a few Oasis and Stone Roses crowd-pleasers? And, no joke, one daft critic pondered why John Squire stays mute throughout the set.

Like prime cartoon Liam squaring up to a petrified paparazzo, let’s kung-fu kick through these complaints one by one.

For a start, bands should need a licence and a bloody good reason to play live for more than an hour at any gig, regardless of the ticket price (as one of thousands of examples: The Strokes would have been sensational rather than sluggish if they’d played Is This It end-to-end and promptly fucked off at All Points East last summer).

Want some Definitely Maybe karaoke? Liam’s booked some massive sessions at the arenas this summer – get ready to lob those £8 pints during ‘Shakermaker’. 

Squire, meanwhile, probably has no desire whatsoever to desecrate the grave of seminal Manchester pop group The Stone Roses (again), given the rumoured ructions that saw the wheels fall off their ‘10s reunion.

Nor, and surely this doesn’t need underlining, has he ever looked likely to do a run of TED Talks on the history of The Seahorses – evidenced to hilarious, monosyllabic effect on The Jonathan Ross Show alongside a more loquacious Liam a few weeks back.

And the ticket price… well, OK, it’s quite steep, but putting that – and paying this month’s gas bill – to one side for a moment, tonight’s show is a masterclass in less is more, from arguably rock’n’roll’s greatest proponent of the artform.

Because whether you’re watching Liam at Knebworth or Kentish Town Forum, few frontmen know how to own a stage more effortlessly.

The stance might have evolved, sure – partly to save his vocal cords, partly due to a hip replacement – but the effect is the same: Liam remains a mesmerising, magnetic presence, each thousand-yard stare and half-hearted maraca shake only increasing his gravitational pull.

And that’s before we’ve even referenced how remarkable that voice still sounds, pinning you to the back of the room in these relatively intimate environs. 

Like Phil Foden faultlessly trapping 50 yard passes all season for Liam’s beloved City, the raw power of that Lennon gone Rotten rasp has been increasingly taken for granted, particularly in an era where cheating fans by using vocal backing tracks is commonplace, even for credible acts like… (snip! We can’t afford the legal bill, sorry Ed).

Which is actually surprising when you consider that his voice sounded absolutely shot at times during Oasis’ imperial phase (if you don’t believe us, go back and watch the footage of the band’s 2000 Wembley Stadium car-crash).

If anything, as he runs through his favourite colours on that much derided line on set opener ‘Just Another Rainbow’, or scales the heights on a rapturously received ‘Mars to Liverpool’, Liam’s probably never sounded more at the top of his game – the perfect balance of snarl and substance.

Nor has he ever better demonstrated his versatility, with album highlights ‘I’m a Wheel’ and ‘You’re Not The Only One’ proving he can more than hold his own singing the blues.

This interplay is at the crux of their dynamic; if less is more for Liam, more is more for Squire, whose soloing is so sublime it regularly demands the full attention of the stage spotlights, leaving Liam skulking in the shadows.

That said, those extended outros can only stretch the songs so far, and as referenced ad infinitum elsewhere, the material duly runs out at the 52-minute mark (yes, we set a stopwatch) before they’ve even hit the encore.

As you’ll probably have already seen on YouTube, the pair solve that particular problem by borrowing the Stones’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ to bring the curtain down. And it’s genuinely brilliant, Liam luxuriating in its timeless chorus and Squire living out his Almost Famous guitar fantasies for real.

Will they break the 60-minute mark on their next tour by making good on the promise of a second album? Is all of this an elaborate warm-up for a ‘will they/won’t they’ Glastonbury appearance? Would they even consider giving Noel a look-in at some point?

We’ll leave those questions to the smartarses. The world’s biggest rock’n’roll star and his guitar hero are still keeping us guessing this deep into their legendary careers, and that’s more than alright now.

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