Was I ever wrong.

Taking the stage at Manchester’s O2 Ritz tonight (30 May), I saw a whole new Liam–a rebooted, revitalized and recharged Liam, surging with energy and nerve.

The former Oasis frontman was a laconic, moody and downright frustrating live performer the last ten times I saw the legendary band play. He was mailing it in–he was rich, powerful and famous and he came across onstage utterly bored.

But while the Oasis split of 2009 led many to wonder which Gallagher would emerge the more successful, I wasn’t that surprised that brother Noel’s two records with the High Flying Birds were by far superior to Liam’s output with Beady Eye. The former was full of hooks and ideas, while the latter was lifeless, hookless and lacking any emotional center.

Taking the stage on an emotional night in Manchester where the victims of the city’s recent terror attack were memorialized by 22 lit candles, Liam, for the first time in over twenty years, had something to prove.

And he proved it, indeed.

Filled with fire, conviction and heart, Liam stepped up to the mic, put his hands behind his back and led his four-piece band through a searing set of new songs from his upcoming album and a number of Oasis classics.

The sold-out crowd was treated to Oasis’ “Fuckin’ In The Bushes” blaring over the PA and then Liam and his band appeared and started the night off with a feral reading of “Rock N’ Roll Star.” It was a smart move and one that got the crowd on his side immediately, though judging by the enthusiasm of the room, that wasn’t going to be a tall order.

Liam then ripped into a triumphant version of “Morning Glory” which was greeted with sing-a-long enthusiasm.

The new songs were as gritty as they were catchy–“Greedy Soul” is a rueful blast of Britpop, while the putative single “Wall Of Glass” soared through the club like an instant classic.

“It’s not about me, it’s about you lot,” Liam conceded, but that wasn’t exactly true.

The fact was, there was a lot at stake in this performance–it proved that Liam can front a band that’s not Oasis, he can sing better than ever and he can write songs that will stay in your head the way they should.

Liam played six new tracks from his upcoming As You Were record and he closed the night with former Oasis member Bonehead jumping on stage for “Be Here Now” and a rousing reading of “Live Forever.”

I had my doubts, but after tonight’s performance, he might very well live forever after all.

Welcome back, sir.

Full Set List:

Rock ‘n’ Roll Star

Morning Glory
Greedy Soul(New)
Wall of Glass (New)
Bold (New)
Paper Crown’(New)
D’You Know What I Mean
Slide Away
It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way (New)
You’d Better Run, You’d Better Hide (New)
Universal Gleam
Be Here Now (with Bonehead)
Live Forever