Liam Gallagher: As It Was is not the first entry in the Oasis movieverse. Mat Whitehouse’s 2016 Supersonic tracked the rise and fall — and most importantly fallouts—of Noel and Liam Gallagher with wit, invention and candour as their Beatles-alike band became a musical powerhouse. If it leaves this quasi-sequel little in the way of conflicts or memorable tunes to mine, Liam Gallagher: As It Was gets by on the odd revelation and the sheer force of Gallagher’s personality.
The film gets by on Gallagher’s naturally funny turn of phrase.
Directed by long-time Gallagher video collaborator Charlie Lightening and documentarian Gavin Fitzgerald, Liam Gallagher: As It Was certainly wears its access-all-areas lanyard around its neck. Picking up with the collapse of Beady Eye, we follow Gallagher on the comeback trail performing new songs in a pub in County Mayo, turning up at One Love Manchester with arch-nemesis Chris Martin to perform ‘Live Forever’ and losing his voice at Lollapalooza. In between the music, we get a tour of his old bedroom, interactions with his mum, some fun stuff with his kids and an emphasis on his relationship with Debbie Gwyther, his PA-turned-partner who’s provided a grounding force at the eye of the storm.
Yet what As It Was doesn’t really have is a point of view on its subject. There’s no discussion or questioning of the quality of the new music or of Gallagher’s place or relevance within the contemporary music scene. It also lacks dissenting voices, any contrary views or sense of challenging its subject. As It Was is also let down by its filmmaking, be it an overblown insistent score, tired split screen and one almightily garbled montage.
Yet the film gets by on Gallagher’s naturally funny turn of phrase (“PG Tips can fuck off”) and a childlike charm (there’s a lovely moment where he gives some Dublin teens some tickets to his gig). It also charts the change in the man, adding shades of humility to the trademark arrogance. Given there is little in the way of on-screen argy bargy (or wonderbrawls) we’re living in strange times when Bros summon up more onscreen aggro than Liam Gallagher.