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Beady Eye

Southampton Guildhall 26.4.11

Only a fool went to the Guildhall on Tuesday expecting to see anything that even remotely resembled the singer’s previous band. Although the membership has been drawn entirely from the ranks of Oasis, Beady Eye has precious little to do with that monolithic outfit – not even Liam Gallagher himself.

The occasional walk-off aside, his stage persona once consisted of not much more than setting his mic stand too high to comfortably sing in to, arsing around with a tambourine and scowling at the front rows of the audience. It was perfect. Arrogant. Aggressive. A great big “c’mon!” to anyone who was mad for it. These days though he’s desperate for his new band to be liked and while not exactly chatty, he is a far more animated presence on stage, apparently conscious that he’s got to do a lot more to get this mob noticed.

And the reason is simple. The songs just aren’t up to it. The ideas are there right enough and stylistically they have something that Oasis never had, but they just aren’t that strong. The messy sound mix doesn’t do them any favours. Any hint of melody and harmony are defeated by drummer Chris Sharrock’s heavy hitting and bovver booted bass drum which is chased around by the bass boom of hired hand Jeff Wootton (last seen playing guitar for Damon Albarn in Gorillaz, oh the irony!), bounces off the unforgiving walls and burst into our chest cavities like Alien in reverse.

Gem Archer shows off an auspicious collection of Rickenbacker guitars to Liam’s left, leaving Andy Bell over on stage right immersed in his return to the guitar berth he once occupied in Ride. Both are splendid musicians – as is regular Oasis sideman Jay Darlington on keyboards – but not great stage personalities. With Liam a little too nervous to really do what he’s best at – sing like Liam Gallagher – the volume was no substitute for charisma.

The problem is, Oasis casts a long shadow and for all the beery love in the room (and there was plenty) He Who Must Not Be Named casts a longer one. Say what you like about obvious influences, but NG pretty much patented the common ground between terrace chant and pop song. Beady Eye may unearth an equally potent ingredient, but they haven’t yet.

Album opener Four Letter Word, is a powerful-enough curtain-raiser; and the live incarnation of Millionaire sheds the recorded version’s West Coast gloss in favour of some prime northern beef. For Anyone is Liam at his most saccharine sweet and is quite cute; The Roller, shorn of its All You Need Is Love production sheen, is already well-established as a singalong live fave; but Wind Up Dream is pure pub rock plod and Bring the Light is a self-indulgent Great Balls of Fire hijack. It’s not until the very end, the gutsy cover of the long-forgotten World of Twist’s 1991 single Sons of the Stage, that Beady Eye recapture anything like the feeling of the opening 15 minutes.

Still, it’s early days…