Beady Eye, Academy, Newcastle
Metronomy, Digital, Brighton
The monobrowed Gallagher brother – the one who didn't write the songs – is on borrowed time with his new band
Sunday 24 April 2011
Last time I saw this many Fred Perry polo shirts in one place, I was lost in Lillywhite's.
There's an air of Britpop period re-enactment surrounding Beady Eye, the band described by Liam Gallagher himself on last weekend's Football Focus as "the same kind of thing, except for the Little Man".
But there's clearly still a massive market for Big Mouth and the Little Man's turgid legacy. The tour DJ is playing the Union flag lad-rock canon – The Beatles' appallingly conservative "Revolution" into The Who's "Pictures of Lily" into The Jam's "That's Entertainment" – when I glance up at the little TV screens that show what's coming up at the Newcastle Academy: Definitely Maybe (an Oasis tribute act), supported by Changingman (Paul Weller). You've got to wonder why the venue bothered booking it, given that Beady Eye are essentially an Oasis tribute band anyway, but maybe the Geordie punters simply can't get enough of it.
The DJ's on to the Stone Roses' "I am the Resurrection" now, and the Fred Perry boys are shouting the bassline. Then it's Johnny Rotten screaming "No future, no future!" and I'm whispering: "Too right, mate." Finally, the lights go down, the lads throw their lager in the air, the monobrowed monkey-man walks on wearing a Pretty Green parka and the chant goes up that will punctuate every break: "Liam! Liam! Liam!"
The booze-chucking crowd's excitement at seeing Oasis-minus-the-songwriter continues through the dramatic opener "Four Letter Word" – Wings circa "Live and Let Die" – and lasts for another three or four songs, but by the time we get to "For Anyone", people are sloping away to the bar for another pint. It's not altogether surprising. After all, Beady Eye's material has all the finesse you'd expect from the man who wrote Oasis career lowlights "Little James" and "Songbird". A typical lyric goes: "So many people, so many time/So many reasons, so little rhyme". Purest, back-of-the-envelope gibberish.
And Liam's claim in that same Football Focus clip that "We're still rockin' man, all new songs, not living off the past ..." is somewhat undermined by Beady Eye's crutch-like reliance on rock history. The second song tonight is called "Beatles and Stones", and it sounds like The Who: the big three hackneyed Sixties ducks there, all in a row. "Man of Misery", meanwhile, nicks the Hammond riff from Booker T and the MGs' "Green Onions", and even the visuals are the stuff of lazy psychedelic cliché.
Beady Eye's beer-and-fags, meat-and-potatoes plod is nothing new, by their own admission, and they're so short of songs that they have to encore with a sub-standard cover of "Sons of the Stage" by World of Twist. But nobody in a Stella-soaked tennis top cares about that tonight. They're here to see Liam being Liam, and he delivers. Between every other number, he's picking a fight with someone, but no one can hear what he's on about.
A couple of shout-outs do carry through. First single "Bring the Light" is played for the Teenage Cancer Trust – fair play – and follow-up "The Roller" is dedicated, presumably with some sarcasm, to Noel. "They call me the roller," he drawls, incorrectly. Liam, no one calls you "The Roller". They may call you plenty of other things, but not that.
You can tell Joseph Mount's on home turf. Not just because the Metronomy main man announces "This song was written on Egremont Place" and proceeds to give shout-outs to various parts of Brighton, but because he speaks with the slur of someone who's been drinking with friends all afternoon.
In practice, though, his apparent inebriation barely matters, because Metronomy are every bit as mechanical as their name suggests (no bad thing, necessarily), a man-machine/ woman-machine impression which is amplified by the lighting fixtures on their bodies.
Perhaps inevitably, the plangent Steely Dan-like subtleties of their new album, The English Riviera, (a reference to the Devon coast where Mount grew up) are lost in the live setting, and their more familiar incarnation as an indie dancefloor act comes to the fore.
It doesn't take long to get the measure of Metronomy. Much like the English Riviera itself – for holidaymakers who can't afford France or don't want to give up their fish and chips – Metronomy are a compromise and a substitute: a band for people who miss the days when Foals hadn't yet graduated from clubs to theatres, and Bloc Party from theatres to sheds.
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