Liam Gallagher told Manchester that “normal service has resumed” after he debuted his first solo material – and covered six Oasis classics – at an emotional hometown gig on Tuesday night.
Gallagher, 44, donated all proceeds from the sold-out concert at The Ritz to the victims of last week’s Manchester Arena concert blast.
The singer applauded as heartfelt cries of “Stand up for the 22” rang out from the crowd in reference to those killed at the Ariana Grande concert last week.
Liam, who was joined on stage for one track by ex-Oasis bandmate Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs, also performed in front of 22 candles in tribute.
“Manchester, I love you,” he said, after closing the 14-song set with a moving a cappella rendition of his old band’s hit song Live Forever, before adding: “Look after yourselves”.
Earlier in the night, details emerged of Ariana Grande’s benefit concert, alongside the likes of Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Take That.
Members of other Manchester bands The Courteeners and Blossoms, plus local boxing legend Ricky Hatton and stars of Coronation Street, were among the 1,400 crowd.
Daniel Moores, guitarist from The Courteeners – who themselves played an emotionally-charged show at Old Trafford Cricket Ground on Saturday – said: “They’re massively important these gigs, to bring a bit of solidarity to Manchester.
“We’re all in same boat aren’t we? We all love each other. But he’s the main man, Liam Gallagher.”
Blossoms bass player Charlie Salt said: “I thought it was absolutely brilliant. The candles were a nice touch, the new tunes sounded great and his voice was top notch.
“The support has been amazing. What more can you expect from Manchester?”
Gallagher once said that he would never go solo, as he was not an idiot (shall we say, as we can’t bring you the actual naughty word here).
But things change, and eight new solo tracks from forthcoming album As You Were, like Wall of Glass – which was partially leaked last week – were greeted with warm cheers and applause.
The most rapturous noises of the night were, of course, reserved for the epic Oasis songs that helped the snarling singer make his name, performed well by his new backing band (which includes ex-Babyshambles bassist Drew McConnell).
Opening duo Rock ‘N’ Roll Star and Morning Glory got the party started, and versions of D’You Know What I Mean, Slide Away and Bonehead’s joyous cameo for Be Here Now also provided highlights.
Liam, who will play three further gigs in London, Dublin and Glasgow over the coming weeks, returned to the stage for an encore.
He applauded the crowd for their spontaneous chorus of “Stand up for the 22” and “Manchester la la la” then delivered a defiant rendition of Live Forever, without any real musical accompaniment.
As the much-loved singer disappeared into the Manchester night the crowd stayed behind to sing impromptu versions of Oasis tracks that were not in the set, like Stop Crying Your Heart Out and Don’t Look Back In Anger.
The latter was originally sung by Liam’s brother Noel but this week became the soundtrack to a city attempting to move on.
And while there was no surprise appearance from the older Gallagher brother, who turned 50 this week, neither sibling had to sing it anyway. Manchester sang it for them.
Last week Liam told the Manchester Evening News: “I want to try and help pick people up. People like me, doing what we do, it’s our duty to give people a good time.”
Job done, then, for the man who proved he can still belt out a rock ‘n’ roll banger, shake a tambourine, and wear a cagoule indoors as convincingly as anyone – as well as capture the hearts of the people of Manchester and beyond.
As you were everyone…
Listen to the radio premier of Liam’s debut solo single Wall of Glass with MistaJam on Radio 1 tonight at 19:00 BST.
Set list in full
…In The Bushes – Oasis (walk on music)
Rock ‘N’ Roll Star – Oasis cover
Morning Glory – Oasis cover
Wall of Glass
D’ You Know What I Mean? – Oasis cover
Slide Away – Oasis cover
All I Need
I Get By
You Better Run
Be Here Now – Oasis cover, featuring Bonehead
Live Forever – Oasis cover, a cappella