Monday, December 5, 2011

Beady Eye concert review: Los Angeles

courtesy Dangerbird Records
A version of my review originally appeared at

When Liam Gallagher served as front man for Oasis, he used to complain about not being able to sing more of his own lyrics.
On the last couple albums by that band, brother and chief songwriter Noel finally relented. Yet the tunes were never really up to par. 
After Oasis split in 2009 - following a nasty altercation between the siblings before a Paris music festival appearance - Liam finally got to prove his mettle once and for all in Beady Eye. 
Comprising the final Oasis live lineup, the group put out Different Gear, Still Speeding this past February on Dangerbird Records. A solid first studio effort produced by Steve Lillywhite (U2, Peter Gabriel, Dave Matthews Band), the material tends to have a looser, more freewheeling spirit than Oasis, albeit with fewer memorable hooks.
Though it didn’t set the charts alight here, Different Gear found modest success at home in England , netted a gold certification (100,000 copies shipped) and five top 75 singles. 
During the Britpop movement’s mid-Nineties heyday, the Gallaghers constantly bickered in the press. Age has apparently not softened the sibling rivalry. Over the summer, both instituted lawsuits against each other. Yet Liam is willing to do a one-off reunion in 2015 to mark the 20th anniversary of seminal Oasis album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory. 
Last month, Noel appeared at UCLA’s Royce Hall with his new outfit High Flying Birds and included several Oasis songs in the set. Beady Eye doesn’t do any. Liam has said he wants to stand on his own merits and might consider it for future tours.
Initially polite applause and little movement among the crowd at Beady Eye’s L.A. concert debut on Saturday night probably had something to do with that decision. The Wiltern was not sold out – hardly a surprise considering the lack of widespread name recognition, scant radio airplay and a belated arrival here to perform. 
Entering to guitarist Gem Archer’s trippy recorded instrumental “Yellow Tail,” Liam Gallagher wore a scarf, olive hooded jacket (likely part of his Pretty Green clothing line) and announced “this ain’t no folk song.” 
Beady Eye launched the 70-minute set with a spirited, psychedelic “Four Letter Word.” Guitarist Andy Bell engaged in some tasty wah wah work and Gallagher ambled to the front of the stage to sign a fan’s vinyl copy of the new album. 
Expanded to a six-piece in concert with keyboardist Matt Jones and bassist Jeff Wootton, the sound was consistently full and sharp. The stomping Who homage “Beatles and Stones” came across a real corker as Gallagher snarled these lyrics about affirmation: “gonna stand the test of time.” 
The lanky lead singer was his usual gruff self, frequently mumbling in a thick Mancunian accent. Gallagher noted it was good to “play in a nice venue instead of a toilet” and dedicated songs to the Manchester City soccer team (which won its match that day) and his hometown posse. 
Unshackled from the supposedly tight control of Noel Gallagher, you’d think Beady Eye would appear more relaxed onstage. Instead, the guitarists and bassist stood stoically and went about their business, never hinting of any enjoyment (I only saw Bell smile once at Wootten when one apparently made a mistake). 
Veteran drummer Chris Sharrock (The La’s, World Party, Lightning Seeds, Robbie Williams) played with total finesse, even on the mild rockers. His ace work was showcased especially well amid the jaunty stop/start rhythm of “Three Ring Circus” (where fans finally perked up and chanted “Liam”), an idyllic “Kill for a Dream” and solo bit midway through the poignant, but meandering epic “Wigwam.”
Surprisingly, some Beady Eye non-album cuts fared best live. The folk/rock styled “In the Bubble with a Bullet,” featuring Bell ’s great slide work, and ominous organ-led “Man of Misery” were among them. Jones’ rollicking Little Richard-styled piano on “Bring the Light” was an additional highlight. 
The encore included more unfamiliar, impressive selections. A low key “World Outside My Room” verged on skiffle territory, while the intriguing, Fender Rhodes-infused “Sons of the Stage” – a cover by short-lived Manchester pop/rock band World of Twist, who had a minor UK hit with it in 1991 – was spacey and powerful.
Young Belgian duo Black Box Revelation lived up to their name with a garage rock-centric, half-hour opening set reminiscent of Black Keys and White Stripes. Vocalist Jan Patermoster played dirty blues guitar runs and Dries Van Dijck provided thunderous drums. 
Together since ’05, the pair recorded a couple albums back home in Brussels . The Shiver of Joy EP is available Stateside; full-length effort My Perception - produced by Alain Johannes 
(Queens of the Stone Age) is due out here next year. 
In L.A. , the serrated guitar work on “Sealed with Thorns,” intense “High on a Wire,” “I Think I Like You” (where Van Dijck created quite a racket) and the EP’s melodic title track provided the most impact.  
Setlist: Beady Eye, The Wiltern, Los Angeles , Dec. 3, 2011
Main set: Four Letter Word/Beatles and Stones/Millionaire/Two of a Kind/For Anyone/Three Ring Circus/The Roller/In the Bubble with a Bullet/Bring the Light/Standing on the Edge of the Noise/Kill for a Dream/The Beat Goes On/Man of Misery/The Morning Son/Wigwam
Encore: World Outside My Room/Sons of the Stage

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