Liam Gallagher goes solo for defiant Manchester attack fundraiser

Former Oasis singer says ‘normal business has resumed’ in emotional concert in aid of We Love Manchester emergency fund

Liam Gallagher said “normal business has resumed” as he performed in Manchester at his first solo gig, a week after a suicide bombing in the city.

The former Oasis frontman arrive on stage to beer-soaked delirium and launched into a raucous version of the Oasis song Rock’n’Roll Star.

Chants of “Manchester la la la!” broke out regularly as Gallagher played Oasis classics along with songs from his debut solo album, As You Were, which is out in October. Among the audience at the 1,400 capacity crowd at O2 Ritz was the Mancunian former boxing world champion Ricky Hatton. All proceeds from the concert will be donated to the families of the victims of the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena.

The new solo material found a receptive audience, but it was Oasis hits – including Slide Away, Rock’n’Roll Star and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? – that brought the biggest singalongs. Fans chanted “Stand up for the 22” throughout the encore and Gallagher returned to the stage to perform an a cappella version of Live Forever. After he exited the stage, the crowd chanted “You can shove your fucking Isis up your arse,” before hundreds joined in a rendition of 1996 hit Don’t Look Back in Anger.

The timing of the concert – and the renewed resonance of Don’t Look Back in Anger – fuelled speculation that Liam and Noel Gallagher might put aside their sibling rivalry and share a stage for the first time in eight years.

The closest fans got to a re-formation, however, was when former Oasis guitarist Paul Arthurs joined Gallagher for a rare live performance of Be Here Now, the title track of the band’s 1997 album.

“It’s been a really tough week for Manchester and all we wanted was for our Mancunian brothers and sisters to rally together and bring our city back to where it was before the tragedy,” said Leah Brotherton, 36. “Liam Gallagher is one of our favourite sons and he’s come home tonight and he’s lifted the city of Manchester.

She added: “I’m sure it’s gonna carry on and spread across Manchester – it’s a good feeling, and I couldn’t be prouder tonight to be a Mancunian.”

Ken Gardiner, 54, described the gig as “absolutely brilliant”. He added: “I kind of thought when he said Liam and friends there would be a few more friends. He could have probably gone out on a bigger anthem – it was just him solo – but, hey, everything he did was brilliant. His voice is back.

“We all hoped Noel would turn up – especially with Liam wishing him happy birthday [Noel had turned 50 the day before] – but it was still good. He did everything he needed to do.”

Earlier in the night, a long queue of excited fans had waited for the best spot. Charlie Karisa, 18, had arrived eight hours before the doors opened with his friend Tom Ebbrell, 19. Both hoped for a glimpse of the singer.

The pair, from Birkenhead, Merseyside, were not even born when the band’s debut album, Definitely Maybe, was released in 1994. Ebbrell said it was a “stroke of luck” that they managed to get tickets, which had sold out in seconds.

Charlie Karisa (L) and Tom Ebbrell, outside the Ritz.
Charlie Karisa, left, and Tom Ebbrell outside the Ritz. Photograph: Josh Halliday for the Guardian

Further up the queue, Nathan Roche, 19, said he had sold his mother’s ticket to a stranger because she was scared about another attack following the bombing last week. “She said I could be here for her,” he said. “I’m not scared. You let them win if you’re scared. You’ve got to keep going or Manchester will end up with empty shops, businesses will close down.”

Roche said he had been in Manchester city centre minutes before the attack on 22 May and that the experience had scarred him. “It’s got to me a bit. I was down for a good few days and I still am. It’s deep. I think it’s top the way everyone’s pulled together. Mancunian spirit, I suppose.”

Nathan Roche (R), with Mark Bulfin.
Nathan Roche, right, with Mark Bulfin. Photograph: Josh Halliday for the Guardian

Roche, who is from Burnage, the south Manchester suburb where the Gallaghers were raised, was steeling himself for an emotional night. “I think Live Forever will be emotional – and especially if Noel comes on for Don’t Look Back in Anger,” he said. “I don’t think there will ever be any closure to be honest.”

Katrina Burgess, 35, was hoping Noel would come onstage. “We’ve been waiting too long for this,” she said. “I’ve seen all the rumours. If it does happen, I’ll be crying. I’ve loved Oasis since school.”

Katrina Burgess (second from left) with fellow Liam Gallagher fans.
Katrina Burgess (second left) with fellow Liam Gallagher fans. Photograph: Josh Halliday for the Guardian

She added: “My mum warned me I wasn’t allowed to go to any more gigs after what happened last week because she was scared it would happen again, but I had to break the news to her. It’s Liam, come on.”

Liam Gallagher will play London’s Electric Brixton on 1 June, Dublin’s Olympia Theatre on 10 June and Glasgow’s Barrowland on 11 June.

Profits from the Manchester gig will go to the We Love Manchester emergency fund, set up by Manchester city council and the British Red Cross to help families affected by the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert on 22 May.

Gallagher tweeted hours before the concert on Tuesday:

Good morning MANCHESTER looking forward to some serious RnR tnight as you were LG x

— Liam Gallagher (@liamgallagher) May 30, 2017

Announcing the gig last week, Gallagher told the Manchester Evening News that the bombing was “outrageous”. He added: “Just so sad. What can you do? It’s just fucking out of order. There are kids and people dying all over the world. And for what?”

He said of his decision to donate profits from the show: “I just knew I had to. I’m not in it for the money. The gig was going to happen anyway and we all have to do what we can.

“I want to try and help pick people up. People like me, doing what we do, it’s our duty to give people a good time.”


Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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