Opinion

Overgrown lads should act their age – even at a Liam Gallagher gig

Sam Delaney is fine with blokes letting off steam, but a family outing to a Liam Gallagher gig suggests many don't know where the line is

Liam Gallagher performing at the London leg of his Definitely Maybe 30th anniversary tour

Liam Gallagher performing at the London leg of his Definitely Maybe 30th anniversary tour. Image: Dan Reid/Shutterstock

Most cultural eras are misrepresented in pretty cliched ways. I never knew anyone who had a mullet or drove a Sinclair C5 in the ’80s. I don’t suppose the streets were rammed with hippies in the ’60s or punks in the ’70s. However, I was around in the ’90s and can confirm that a lot of the familiar tropes of that particular decade ring true: we really did seem to be pissed most of the time. 

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I was a student between 1994 and 1997 so my perception is somewhat skewed, I guess. But in those particular years a great many young people really did wear anoraks and sunglasses indoors, swagger about flicking the Vs at all and sundry, talk almost exclusively about football and listen to Britpop. At least that’s how I remember it. It was the era of the ‘lad’, in which we resolved to live life out loud, with little concession to political correctness or any other form of seriousness. Boys and girls alike embraced a nihilistic design for life. It was a lot of fun for a while, but by the end of the decade it had run its course. It lacked the sort of depth required for a lasting movement. Being a lad was, ultimately, an unfulfilling load of old bollocks.

Last week I took a walk down memory lane by taking my family to watch Liam Gallagher perform the entirety of Definitely Maybe at the O2 in London. For my wife and I, it was quite romantic – these were the songs that soundtracked our early courtship. For my kids (aged 16 and 12) it was thrilling: the ’90s seems as strange and oddly cool to them as the ’60s did to my generation. Indeed, the gig was full of adolescents who had fallen for all that ’90s folklore and wanted a taste of the ‘mad for it’ scene.

There were also a huge number of middle-aged men who had lived it the first time round but, apparently, never recovered. With their shaggy Liam hairstyles thinning on top and their expanded waistlines bursting from beneath their parkas, they waddled in and out of the O2 toilets, shovelling cocaine up their worn-out nostrils as if it was a Saturday in 1994 (as opposed to a Tuesday, 30 years later). In the stands, they guzzled lager from plastic pots and shouted profanities at the stage. They splayed out their arms like football hooligans confronting police in foreign piazzas. They snarled and staggered while some of the younger wannabes looked upon them with a disheartening admiration. The kiddies’ eyes seemed to say: “Wow, you’re the wankers we’ve heard about in all those documentaries!” 

If I sound like a grumpy judgmental bastard then, well, guilty as charged. While I had the same daft hairstyle and narcotic proclivities back in the day, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t quite as aggressive and yobbish as it seems to be now. Remember, Oasis (and all those other bands) were, ultimately, indie acts raised on a love of thrift shop clothes and the whimsy of Morrissey’s lyrics.

Look, I like a noisy day out at the football or a raucous gig as much as the next dickhead. But there is a very fine line between blowing off steam with your mates and being an anti-social prick. Understanding where that line is and observing it scrupulously is a really important obligation for any man. All of us have feelings, sensitivities, the capacity for love, the desire to dream and the ability to do good. That’s a beautiful thing. But so many blokes seem ashamed of it.

A geezer sat in front of me at the Liam Gallagher gig got so excited during Cigarettes & Alcohol that he took his socks off and threw them into the crowd. He was in his 30s. He looked round at me beaming, in search of approval. I gave him a thumbs up because I didn’t want any trouble. But, come on mate, that’s no way to live your life.

Read more from Sam Delaney here.

Sort Your Head Out book cover

Sort Your Head Out: Mental Health Without All the Bollocks by Sam Delaney is out now (Constable £18.99)You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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