Greetings again from the darkness. Co-directors Gavin Fitzgerald and Charlie Lightening could have ended this profile of singer Liam Gallagher by playing the theme song to “Family Feud” over the closing credits. While they do offer up an unflinching look at the talented singer of suspect character, we come away with the feeling that the entire project was designed to reunite Liam and his brother Noel. The two supposedly haven’t spoken since they nearly brawled backstage at a scheduled Oasis concert: Paris 2009 Rock en Seine.
A blend of clips from that final Oasis show and Liam’s 2017 comeback concert in support of his solo album “As You Were” kick off the film. However, before the opening credits roll, we hear Liam spewing enough f-words to make any teenager blush. The assumption is that we are to be reminded of what a prig Liam was, and the reputation he earned as being a bad boy of rock. The filmmakers, along with Liam and his mum, then spend the rest of the run time trying to convince us that he’s a changed man and is actually devoted to his family and to his craft. We do believe the latter, but the former is quite a stretch. We do see his sons accompany him on a later tour, but Liam’s numerous affairs and broken marriages are glossed over.
To his credit, Liam faces the camera with some candid self-assessment. It’s unclear whether this is his own personal therapy or whether he’s choosing to come clean for his fans. Others with featured input here include former Oasis guitarist Bonehead Arthurs, Liam’s brother Paul, and Liam’s mother Peggy (who is very proud of her boy). Also offering up praise is Debbie Gwyther, Liam’s former assistant, who is now his lover and manager. He credits her with getting him back on track in life and back on stage in music.
Although the film features very little music, we do get enough concert clips to recognize Liam’s stage presence; however, it’s the camera time in the studio that is most fascinating – and leaves us feeling a bit short-changed. Seeing Liam work through songs at historic Abbey Road Studios could have made for an entire film. He is admittedly not a true songwriter, so being forced to collaborate due to the absence of Noel, probably displays the most personal growth for Liam (even if it’s out of necessity).
Liam and Noel supposedly haven’t spoken in the 10 years since that backstage fight killed off a superband and a brotherhood. The reconciliation evades the filmmakers, but they salvage the project as Liam’s solo career takes off, and he travels with sons Gene (born to singer Nicole Appleton) and Lennon (born to actress Patsy Kensit). I chuckled when it’s mentioned that Liam is ‘the greatest rock front man’ … a line easily contradicted by mentioning Mick Jagger, Bono, or Bruce Springsteen. We are told “he is who he is”, and can’t help but wonder if that’s a good thing. Having others say that he is grateful for a second chance is not the same as him stating it for himself.