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As You Were: how Liam Gallagher came back from the brink to revive his career

@josephtaysom

Liam Gallagher was seen as a fallen icon following the split of Beady Eye, a somewhat failed prospect off the back of the demise of Oasis. Meanwhile, his brother, Noel, was on cloud nine with his High Flying Birds earning critical acclaim. With professional struggles came personal ones, too. His marriage had ended, he was in the tabloids for fathering an illegitimate child, his band had failed, and it seemed like there was no way back for the former leader of Manchester’s favourite sons.

It was in 2014 when Liam announced that his post-Oasis project called it a day. Their second album, BE, wasn’t a commercial failure by any stretch, but it wasn’t met with the kind of hysteria he had become accustomed to, and Beady Eye’s ticket sales dwindled massively. Gallagher had grown used to playing residencies in front of 100,000s at Wembley Stadium, Knebworth, and Glastonbury. The slip in relevance had crushed his ego and, now struggling to sell out mid-sized chain venues, Beady Eye had reached the end. The situation was only made more difficult when, on the other end of a bitter family feud, his brother was playing to arenas and riding high. Now though, even by Noel’s own admission, the tables have turned – but how did it happen?

In 2017, explaining the moment that made him throw in the towel, Liam Gallagher noted how Beady Eye couldn’t visit America to tour their second album despite being offered a slot at Coachella, stating: “Apparently we couldn’t afford to go out there”. Elaborating further, Gallagher explained how he knew it was time to end it when his bandmate, Andy Bell, got a call to reunite with Ride. Gallagher immediately told his colleague that was the right thing to do, and Beady Eye slipped away as a result.

Gallagher found himself in a dark place in the subsequent months, a period of personal turmoil in which he felt as though his career in music was beyond repair. He questioned whether it was even the right path for him anymore. On the outside, Liam is a man that is constantly brimming with confidence, but in 2014, every ounce of that exuberance had drained from his body. “When Beady Eye split up, I could’ve knocked music on the head. It was like, ‘Fuck it. I’ve got a lot of shit goin’ on in me head. I haven’t got a band. I can’t be arsed lookin’ for a new one'”, he reflected in a past interview with Huck Magazine. “I had never done that. I joined The Rain, which were my mates, 20-something years ago. That turned into Oasis. Then Beady Eye was just sort of Oasis, so the thought of having to go lookin’ for bandmates filled me with dread.” 

Adding” “Do I really wanna be Liam Gallagher? Can I be arsed with the bullshit that goes with it? Maybe it’s time to walk away and not do anything. Then I got bored.”

With the future uncertain, Gallagher was safe in the knowledge that he didn’t need to return to music for financial reasons. If it was to be the end of time on stage, he could live a quiet life, relaxed away from the stresses of performing. However, in the back of his mind, Gallagher still had a point to prove, even if he wouldn’t admit to himself at the time.

Initially, his return to music was sparked out of boredom, and writing became a way to fill the endless empty days in his calendar. Even when he announced plans to release new solo songs, he remained unambitious about his intentions, stating it would just be a few individual tracks. Not wanted didn’t shoot for the stars, perhaps out of a fear of failure, the spark was ignited for what was to come. 

Noel and Liam’s careers have taken different paths. (Credit: Michael Spencer Jones)

At the end of 2016, it was announced he’d play a string of festivals the following summer, including Reading & Leeds, and a smattering of dates around the continent despite the fact that he had yet to release a song as a solo artist. Gallagher was an unknown quantity again, and there was a level of genuine intrigue about what route he was planning to take next. Despite the lack of fanfare surrounding Beady Eye, time is a wondrous healer, and Liam’s electrifying Twitter page helped him become relevant than ever before – for better or for worse. 

Not only had he connected with older fans and allowed his true personality to come through, but he also won him over an army of new, younger, impressionable fans during his hiatus from the stage. Ideologically, he couldn’t be further away from being Gen-Z and most likely thinks Tik Tok is a watch brand, yet, for some reason, this has endeared him to a section of an age group who appreciate that Gallagher is a blast from the past.

Then his comeback single, ‘Wall of Glass’, announced his return in the most seismic way possible. The summer of 2017 reasserted Gallagher as the man of the moment, albeit somewhat born out of tragic circumstances. Following the Manchester Arena terrorist attack, Oasis single ‘Live Forever’ became the song that helped piece the city back together, uniting people at their lowest moment.

With that, he performed the track at his first gig back as a solo artist at Manchester Ritz just days afterwards, and the rousing footage swirled across social media. A few weeks later, Gallagher took to the stage at the ‘One Love’ concert at Emirates Old Trafford, where he sewed himself back into the hearts of a mourning nation and provided a shot of light amid the overbearing darkness.

From there, his comeback was in full swing. Gallagher had become a man of the people, speaking out whenever he felt the need to. His set at Glastonbury on ‘The Other Stage’ saw him play to a crowd that stretched as far as the eye could see, confirming that something special was brewing. 

Gallagher appeased the masses with his chart-topping debut album, As You Were. While Noel has leaned into experimentation in recent years, making music for himself, Liam is serving up the faithful Oasis fans with safe sounds that have made him a star again. Additionally, he’s providing young fans who weren’t around to live through the band’s era of dominance a taste of the ’90s.

Liam Gallagher is yet to make a solo album that is worthy of mention alongside Definitely, Maybe. However, while Noel is off doing his own thing with a band that includes a scissor player, his younger brother is providing a night down memory lane, offering a colossal splattering of much-needed nostalgia in a particular downbeat period of time. In a career with more ups and downs than imaginable, the comeback of Liam Gallagher has ensured his legacy will live forever. 

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