Want to hear something strange? Despite it being one of the most acclaimed and well-loved songs that he ever wrote, Noel Gallagher has never actually performed ‘Live Forever’ in a public forum. During the Oasis years, the song was always Liam’s territory, and he hadn’t resurrected the classic tune for his solo work with the High Flying Birds.
Until now, that is. Noel, perhaps realising just how beloved the song is and what kind of reaction he would get from belting it out, performed the song live for the first time at a BBC Radio 2 session released earlier today.
“Since the day I wrote this song and since the day I sang it to the band in 1993 in the rehearsal room, I’ve never sang ‘Live Forever’ once, never in a soundcheck, never,” Gallagher explained. “Even when Liam didn’t bother to turn up for gigs we never did it. It was always his song and he sang it amazingly well. And I don’t know why, that day I just started the guitar in a different tuning for some reason, it suited my voice that day, and I kind of strummed it a little bit and I was like, ‘Actually this might work.’”
Fans have dug up a soundcheck of Noel singing the song at a soundcheck for an acoustic Oasis show back in 2005, but that was never meant for public consumption. Occasionally Noel would strum along when the audience chanted the song’s chorus, but his performance at The Beeb represents his first public take on the song.
“Now as it unfolded, the version that you are about to hear, it suddenly dawned on me that I wrote this song as a 23-year-old and, singing it as like a 54-year-old, it started to take on a different meaning, and I got quite emotional singing it, and I couldn’t sing it all the way. I had to stop a couple of times because it’s a little bit different, some of the chords structures are a little bit different, but the melody’s the same and all that and… because it was a song that changed my life — Oasis was a going concern and we were a good band, but it was indie music. But the day after I wrote that song we became great and I knew that I’d set the bar high, that that was the benchmark and went out to outdo that song every time I wrote a song. And everything that made Oasis great stems from that moment.”
Noel also reflected on how the change in his life gives the song an alternate meaning. “And to get to sing it now as a father of three and been all the way through. And in its original form ‘Live Forever’ is a fist pumping, you know we are going to take on the world, me and my best friend are going to take on the world, and no one’s going to get in our way and we are going to live forever; and singing it now as a 54-year-old father and you’re kind of looking back over your life, and it’s taken on a completely different meaning.
The elder Gallagher brother capped it by giving the song the highest of praise. “Everyone that’s heard it has got quite emotional listening to it, thinking, ‘Wow, it’s actually… the best song I ever wrote — ’cause you know people usually people think ‘Look Back In Anger’ and ‘Wonderwall’ — but actually this is the best song I ever wrote.”
Check out the performance, plus the soundcheck version from 2005, down below.