LIAM GALLAGHER: AS IT WAS – FILM REVIEW
3/5 Former Oasis frontman is on typically swaggering form in this fly-on-the-wall documentary
If there’s one thing you can always rely on from Liam Gallagher, it’s that he’ll talk a good fight. And this new behind-the-scenes documentary – charting the former Oasis frontman’s recent solo career comeback – most certainly delivers on that gobby pugnacity.
Indeed, As It Was may have been designed to showcase Liam Gallagher’s more ‘vulnerable side’ – his tentative first steps as a solo artist, plus the turbulence of his personal life; divorce, estranged children et al – but, ultimately, it’s a film which is characterised by his unwavering braggadocio. Within five minutes of the start, Liam can be found declaring “I know how great I am.” When footage is shown of Liam being presented with a ‘Godlike Genius’ gong at the 2018 NME Awards, he coolly replies, “I’ve always thought I was godlike. From the day I was born.”
As such, it’s a film clearly designed to preach to the converted. Awash with Liam’s trademark bullish charm and humour, As It Was begins with the collapse of Beady Eye (his unfairly maligned post-Oasis project) and follows him on the comeback trail towards chart-topping glory and 2017’s One Love concert in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack. Taking full advantage of their access-all-areas pass, directors Charlie Lightening and Gavin Fitzgerald offer us a rare, intimate glimpse into Liam’s inner world, from trips to Burnage to visit his beloved mam Peggy (we even see the tiny bedroom he once shared with Noel) to family holidays with his two sons, Lennon and Gene, and recently reunited daughter Molly Moorish.
Suffice to say, if you’re a card-carrying member of #TeamLiam, this film ticks all the requisite boxes. You’ll find his customary jibes at brother Noel, some genuinely laugh-out-loud rock’n’roll anecdotes (the one about a fan snorting his dandruff, mistaking it for cocaine, is a belter), and, most importantly, you’ll witness plenty of epic footage of Liam looking imperiously cool while wearing his trademark parkas.
What the film doesn’t have, however – to its detriment – is a narrative that you really feel invested in. Unlike Mat Whitecross’ outstanding 2016 Oasis documentary Supersonic – tracking the band’s rise and fall – this film’s ‘rising from the ashes’ story doesn’t truly convince. Liam undoubtedly deserves credit for his solo success, but was his comeback really all that surprising? A rock star with as much swagger, humour and searing honesty as Liam Gallagher was never going to stay in the wilderness for very long.
And, of course, the film also suffers from the glaring omission of any Oasis music. Brother Noel, still carrying a grudge, reportedly refused the film-makers permission to use any Oasis songs in As It Was. It’s a huge shame – the spine-tingling moment when Liam performed ‘Live Forever’ with Coldplay at the One Love Manchester concert really does deserve a place in this movie.
Yet, for all its obvious faults (and Noel-enforced omissions), As It Was is – thanks to Liam’s sheer force of personality – a breezy, entertaining way to spend 90 minutes of your time. In an age of anonymous, media-trained pop stars, it’s a welcome reminder of Liam Gallagher’s enduring and unfailing ability to always tell it like it is. And long may he continue to do so.
Liam Gallagher: As It Was is on general release and available to buy on DVD/Blu-ray now.