He is best known for being the frontman of one of the biggest bands in British music history, a band that has a deep connection with south Wales, a place that helped them on the road to more than just morning glory. But did you know that Liam Gallagher also does impressions? In particular, of an iconic French footballer that he should hate but actually loves?
As part of a new Sky documentary – Liam Gallagher: 48 Hours at Rockfield, which airs on Tuesday night (May 24) – the singer opens up on being a dad, his immense success as a solo artist, and mentions (naturally) his brother Noel. Ever the anecdotalist, the funniest tale of the whole documentary is when Liam reveals what happened when he asked football legend Eric Cantona to be in the music video for his hit single, Once, released in 2019.
Cantona is most famous for his eccentric ways and for being one of the most iconic players to ever play for Manchester United, the arch enemies of Liam’s beloved Manchester City. When the Frenchman mentioned on Instagram that Once was his favourite song, Liam pounced on an opportunity.
Read more: Liam Gallagher in Cardiff – How to get tickets
“I got someone to call him and said wouldn’t he be great to be in the video, I don’t like doing videos. We asked him if he’d be in it and he said ‘yeah’.” Liam then proceeds to do an impression of Cantona plainly refusing any offers for money, a plane ticket to England, transport, a hotel to stay in or food to eat.
“Anyway, that was what he did. He sat there, he drank his f****** wine, done the video, f***** off, and that was it. See you later. (Switching back to a French accent) Goodbye my English friend.”
Warning: the video below contains bad language
As Liam returns to the Welsh studio where he recorded the most famous songs he’s ever sung, he admits that he didn’t know how his life would pan out after the acrimonious split of Oasis. To get the latest on Liam’s Welsh gig and how to get tickets sign up to our What’s On newsletters, here.
“I didn’t think it would go as well as it’s gone, this solo thing.” Confident as ever, but confidence is something which comes naturally, one would imagine, to a man who sold out two shows at Knebworth in a matter of hours, before anyone had even heard a second of his new album, which is released on Friday.
In preparation for those gigs, to be played in front of 160,000 fans over two nights next month, and an outdoor gig in Cardiff this autumn, Liam returned to Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire, the scene of arguably his greatest triumph and what truly made him a rock and roll star – the seminal 1996 album, What’s the Story Morning Glory? – for two days, with the Sky cameras in tow.
His brother Noel wrote all the songs on that album, but Liam sang them (apart from Don’t Look Back in Anger and two instrumental tracks). That doesn’t matter though, according to Liam. He made them, because he sang them.
“He (Noel) wrote some top tunes and nobody else can sing them like I can sing them. But I can get people to play them on the guitar like Noel does, d’you know what I mean? So I deserve all the f****** credit,” Liam says before staring at the camera with a hint of a wry smile.
It’s a fascinating documentary which combines interviews with live performances and appearances from Liam’s two sons, Lennon and Gene. They accompany their rockstar dad as he arrives back at Rockfield to be met by Kingsley Ward, the man responsible for transforming a Welsh farm into an iconic Welsh recording studio which has been a temporary home to all sorts of musical legends, from Oasis to Black Sabbath, from Coldplay to Queen.
“What was he like, Freddie Mercury?” Liam asks Kinglsey as they reunite for the first time nearly 30 years. “Well he was alright, quiet….he was shy.” Turning to Liam’s sons, Kingsley says, “If you go into the music business and you’re half as successful as your dad, he’ll be proud of you, is that right?” to which Liam responds, “well, yeah.”
The first thing you realise as Liam enters the studio and begins singing – brand new material, some solo hits from his last album and some classic Oasis numbers – is how good his voice sounds live. There was a concern among some that this powerhouse of indie rock had lost his way towards the end of Oasis, that his voice could no longer hold up after years of strain, belting out tunes to thousands of people, night after night.
But if that was the case, something has changed in recent years. Whether it’s careful song selection, expert voice coaching or just some good old fashioned rest, it’s clear that any suggestion that Liam is an iconic frontman purely because of his swagger, his attitude and his stage presence is wide of the mark. Make no mistake about it, Liam can sing.
That fact might be behind his incredible rebirth as a solo artist. Don’t forget, when Oasis split it was Noel, not Liam, who was destined for great things, and so it proved, to begin with. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds soared, while Liam’s band, Beady Eye, stalled and eventually split. It was when Liam started appearing as Liam Gallagher that he found his way again, and hundreds of thousands of fans found him.
Noel has also enjoyed a successful career post Oasis, but Liam sells more records and attracts far bigger crowds. Before Covid, Noel toured with U2. It meant he played to crowds of 80,000 people, but as a support act. Liam too plays in front of 80,000 people, but he has found himself in a place where he is the headline act. His new music has attracted a new audience, and his love for singing 90s classics in outdoor venues means that, for thousands of people desperate for an unlikely Oasis reunion, he is Oasis, or the closest you’ll ever get to seeing them again, anyway.
Back at Rockfield, Liam hangs out with his sons and warns cows not to eat too much grass or they’ll get indigestion. He then takes his boys to the local pub – the Royal Oak in Monmouth – where he once drank with Noel and the rest of Oasis in the heady days of 1995, and talks about his comeback, his health as he approaches his 50th birthday (“obviously there’s a few aches and pains, but mentally I’m f****** on it”), and the fact that he’s grateful to be allowed this return to south Wales.
“We smashed the f****** gaffe up to be fair so I’m glad that they let me back, do you know what I mean?” But, he insists, “I spent more time in the pub than I did here, which is a shame but….I’d do my singing and I’d come back and our kid would still be playing the same f****** riff over and over and over again.”
Liam (thankfully) doesn’t dwell on the breakdown of his relationship with Noel, but he can’t help share humorous stories which simultaneously act as digs at his big brother. Speaking of meeting Oasis fans in the local boozer down the road from Rockfield in the 90s, he said: “It was like ‘come back to our gaffe, we’re having a great time’. ‘What about Noel, the miserable c***? He won’t want us back there.’ I went ‘oh, he loves you, you pay for his big f****** house, he’d love to see you’. But it wasn’t like that. We’d bring them back and he’d be like ‘who the f*** are these d*** heads?’ and I’m saying ‘these are your fans’.”
At the Royal Oak, Liam plays pool with his kids and talks candidly about fatherhood. “If they step out of line they’ll get a telling off, for sure. And the thing is, even though I haven’t got a leg to stand on, I’ve got a f****** knee to bounce off.” He also talks about what drove him to come back with a third solo album – entitled C’mon You Know – after the huge success of his first two.
“This started because when lockdown happened we were all panicking and thinking we’re all gonna die if we don’t wash our hands nine hundred f****** times a f****** minute. So you go to the pub, and you get on the piss, so I did that for six months, and then obviously you’re getting bored of getting w******* and washing your f****** hands, so I got a little studio in the house, done the vocals and before we knew it we had an album done.”
Liam’s return to Rockfield paints the singer in a different light compared to what we have come to expect from him. He certainly doesn’t “smash up the gaffe” like he did all those years ago. Age, and experience, mellows the wildest of souls.
“I’d say I’ve definitely got a bit more professional but you do when you get older,” Liam concludes. “I didn’t give a f***. I loved going out, I loved doing the tunes, partying, that’s what I thought I had to do. My job is to just get in there, look cool, sing as good as I can and bring the rock and roll side to it. I’ve definitely chilled out a bit, for sure.”
Liam Gallagher: 48 Hours at Rockfield will be simulcast on Sky Max, Sky Arts (Freeview Channel 11) and streaming service NOW at 9pm on Tuesday night (May 24).
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