3 Apr 2011

Liam Gallagher on Japan’s ‘horrific’ tsunami

Liam Gallagher performs with his band Beady Eye at the Brixton Academy tonight in a concert to raise money for victims of last month’s Japan tsunami. Alex Thomson spoke to him after the sound check.

The bodies of two workers from Japan’s stricken nuclear plant at Fukushima have been recovered. The men, who were killed when the tsunami washed ashore, bring the confirmed number of dead to over 12,000.

Meanwhile, a Japan Disaster Benefit charity concert is being held at London’s Brixton Academy tonight to raise money for the British Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal.

The concert was instigated by former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, now with Beady Eye. Also performing at the concern will be Paul Weller, Primal Scream, Richard Ashcroft, Graham Coxon and The Coral.

Alex Thomson spoke to Liam Gallagher ahead of tonight’s and showed him the incredible scenes he witnessed while reporting from Japan, including footage from Ofunato which, in the wake of the disaster, continues to play the Beatles song Yesterday over the town’s tannoy.

Liam Gallagher told Channel 4 News of his reaction when he saw the images of Japan’s tsunami on television. “It was just horrific,” he said. “Just terrible, man.”

He told Alex Thomson the fact that he had toured Japan before may have influenced his decision to launch tonight’s concert – but it wasn not the main reason.

“Whenever that kind of stuff happens, it’s not good, is it?” he said. “It’s not just because we’re popular in Japan. As a human, you just think it’s heavy.”

Gallagher as Geldof?
Well, it's not quite like that, but it certainly had a little bit of that kind of stuff as Liam Gallagher wandered from camera to camera explaining how he saw the TV footage of the tsunami and felt something must be done.

So he did it. He called up his mate Paul Weller and said they should get some kind of gig gong and fast. Weller called on Primal Scream and between the Scream, Weller and Beady Eye – the latest Liam G outfit – a cast was put together to entertain punters at the Brixton Academy.

It's curious to see the band in action as they go from camera position along the line. They clearly all defer to Liam – frontman on and off stage.

It was Liam who came up with the idea and is keen, it seems, to get away from all that "bad boy of rock" tabloid stuff – but don't explain him to offer an eloquent explanation of his motivations.

Oasis were - are - big in Japan, as they say, and other locations too. They clearly knew places like Sendai quite well, as it happens. So there was a real feeling about things.

Gallagher being someone with reasonable claim to Most Famous Still Rockin' Beatles Fan, we were keen to show him what happened when we were in the destroyed town of Ofunato. There, as is the Japanese way, they play Tannoyed music every day at 5pm. As it happens, Ofunato's toon is the Beatles' Yesterday.

I didn't expect Liam to expend a great paean of emotion over this, but the images of him and fellow band members looking at this is pretty arresting nonetheless. They hadn't expected this.