Liam Gallagher John Squire review: Manchester mash-up bring their teenage ’tude into middle age

The half-inched tunes come and go rather forgettably but they’re charged with an electric vigour

Helen Brown
Saturday 02 March 2024 09:20 GMT
Liam Gallagher and John Squire release their self-titled debut album
Liam Gallagher and John Squire release their self-titled debut album (Tom Oxley)

“Red and orange, yellow and green, indigo and viiiiiiiiiiolet…” Yup. Liam Gallagher can sing a rainbow. Or more accurately, he can snarl it with menace. It’s entertaining proof that the former Oasis frontman could probably bawl the back of a cereal box into a mic and make it sound like a surly refusal to get his trainers off the bus seat. Behind him, his old Stone Roses guitar hero, John Squire, reworks the rolling fluid riff from The Beatles’ 1966 proto-psychedelic classic “Rain”. Geddit?

It was, in fact, a Stone Roses gig that first got Gallagher into music, and he recently told The Times that if he’d wound up in a studio with Squire when he was 20, he’d “have probably licked him to death”. But he’s 51 now and Squire is 61. The iconic Manchester bands that made them have long since feuded themselves to death – leaving this duo to hook up after Squire joined Gallagher’s band for a guest slot at Knebworth in 2022.

Now united for the first time under a name that does exactly what it says on the tin – and defiantly nothing more – the 1990s legends are clear they’re not aiming to do anything new with their debut.  “Everyone has heard it before,” Gallagher told The Times. It’s [influenced by] the Beatles, the Stones, the Faces, the Pistols… Nothing has changed.”

You’ll hear the recycled riff from the Beatles’ Paperback Writer (“Rain”’s original A-side) on their new song “I’m So Bored”; the hook of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” smoking its way through “Love You Forever”; and the brooding melody from the Stones’ “Paint it Black” on “One Day at a Time”. The pair poke fun at their own slapdash songwriting process on “Make It Up As You Go Along”.

But still, there’s fun to be had with the way Gallagher tows teenage ’tude into middle age. I can picture my 14-year-old son growling along with the contempt of “I’m So Bored”, with the duo sneering wearily at the dreary nature of TV these days, and in a self-deprecating dig at themselves, their own song. Becoming “bored with bosses, bored with your kids” is the sound of an adult fed up with adulting. “Just Another Rainbow” manages to make a drag of even one of nature’s great miracles: “Just another rainbow hanging over me.”

“One Day at a Time” revels in its repeated, savage taunt: “You should have f****d me when you had the chance.” And “Mars to Liverpool” opens with a cracking morning-after line: “Jesus Christ, about last night/ I can only apologise.”

The half-inched tunes come and go rather forgettably – and the rhythms are too plodding – but the songs here are charged with electric vigour. Squire – who feared he’d never play the guitar again after breaking his wrist in 2020 – sends his fluent guitar lines sloshing into every corner of each song. On “The Wheel”, he soars, slides and trickles his way through a 12-bar blues. He rips into “Raise Your Hands” with a victory lap ferocity designed to get pints held aloft and spilled over parkas at this summer’s festivals. Nothing new, like they say. But Nineties nostalgics are gonna love rolling with it.

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