Photo by Will Fresch
In the wake of the horrific suicide bombing on May 22 at a concert at Manchester Arena, that concert’s headline performer, Ariana Grande, organized a benefit concert on June 4 in Manchester, featuring some of music’s biggest names.
One of the most significant artists to contribute to the concert was Liam Gallagher, lead singer of Oasis and Manchester native.
As the concert’s penultimate act, Gallagher performed three songs: Oasis’s hard rocker “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” his debut solo single, “Wall of Glass,” and Oasis' “Live Forever,” which he performed while Coldplay’s Chris Martin sang Noel Gallagher’s high note parts.
That should have been the story -- 'Liam Gallagher, perpetually armed with the swagger and reckless abandon of his early-twenties peak, gives back to the Manchester community at 44-years-old.'
But on Twitter, Liam called out his brother Noel for his absence at the concert, noting that Noel's excuse for his absence, being out of the country, was insufficient and that he had stopped what he was doing for the sake of the benefit. (Though, it was recently reported by multiple outlets that Noel is supporting victims' families by donating song royalties.)
This could have set up a de facto reunion of Oasis, the disbanded rock band in which the brothers contributed as singers and songwriters.
During Oasis’s commercial peak in the mid-1990s, the public perception of the two brothers was that, relatively speaking, Noel was the the brains behind the operation and songwriter, while Liam was the brash singer who embodied the image of Oasis.
That portrait of the band still persists, despite the far more democratic final eight years of the band's run. Entering the 2000s, Liam emerged as a songwriter with a unique voice, and during this time, he was arguably a better pound-for-pound songwriter than his brother.
Noel wrote bigger hits, and had a list of songwriting credits in the 1990s which dwarfs Liam’s output. But when it came to the practical matter of making new Oasis albums, it made sense for the two to split the work.
As Liam began writing more, Noel started to sing more of his own compositions
This was the pattern on six of nine non-instrumental songs on 2000's “Standing on the Shoulder of Giants," three of 10 non-instrumental songs on “Heathen Chemistry," two of 11 on “Don’t Believe the Truth” and three of 11 on “Dig Out Your Soul."
Prior to this, the guitarist had only sung two of the songs he penned for an Oasis album, with one being "Don't Look Back In Anger."
Throughout rock history, singers and guitarists have quarreled. And almost every time, fans have sided with the guitarist.
A singer, by definition, is the talker, at least on stage. The guitarist, meanwhile, can assume a cool and unassuming presence. It is why Keith Richards can be the immortal rock icon, while Mick Jagger has a certain inherent corniness.
The relatively straight-edged Axl Rose could be dismissed as whiny and immature even as he worked tirelessly to make sure Guns n’ Roses evolved, and Slash could be viewed as the soul of the band, even as his drug addiction hurt his songwriting.
With fellow Manchester band, The Smiths, Morrissey is the overly-poetic frontman, while Johnny Marr is the soul of the band with his guitar playing.
Like the Gallagher brothers, all of the above examples have produced music independent of their music partner, and none have come close to the excellence attained while part of a collaboration. Neither Liam nor Noel Gallagher could have fronted a band as great as Oasis alone.