Fire and Skill Launch Party

21st October 1999

The phone went around midday and it was Kat over at Ignition, the Oasis management’s record label. “Do you still want a couple of ticket’s to the launch of Fire & Skill tonight” Too right I thought “Only if you can spare them” I said coolly.

“Well the phones have gone mad, but I will squeeze you a couple – OK” and they duly turned up attached to a Corgi special edition Mini, with a Fire and Skill target painted on the top. She is a top girl is Kat. I went to the Gallery in Hackney with Claire, who has helped a lot with the Web Site, and with the T Shirt sales in Woking. Yeah, alright boys, calm down, and as we arrived there was the usual press gathering, and fans milling around. They had lined up 6 real Mini’s this time, all decked out in Fire and Skill livery, with their headlights trained on the Red Carpet leading up to the door.

As we wandered in, the first person I ran into was the Style Council’s Mick Talbot, propping the bar up. I hadn’t spoken to him since the Merton Parka’s played live at the Fountain in New Malden, that’s a few years back! He didn’t remember me but to be fair, I probably wouldn’t have remembered him unless he had gone on to become Mick Talbot. Mick’s cool these days, and had been playing with the Jools Holland Big Band until recently. Now he has some quite good TV work lined up so we wish him well with all that. Mick said it was highly unlikely that Paul would turn up, and didn’t know about Rick and Bruce but hoped they would be there later.

As it turned out, Mick was the closest to a Jam connection we had ( he played on Heatwave ) nobody else even remotely Jam related turned up at all. Claire didn’t have a clue who Mick Talbot was but made polite conversation all the same. She did point out to me all the more modern celeb’s such as Nicole Appleton, Donna Air and Sadie Frost, whoever they are…..

The drinks flowed, and so did the food, and the place was packed with people who had nothing to do with the Jam whatsoever. I didn't recognise anyone from any Jam gig's. I wondered how many of them even knew who Rick Buckler and Bruce Foxton were. In the bar area a video of all the original versions of the songs on the Tribute album was playing, reminding us all of how good the band were in their day, and for that matter how good they looked in their suits and Red Rickenbacker's with chrome pick up‘s.


Before long Noel Gallagher wandered in and had a chat at the bar. Noel obviously enjoys a night out with a few beers and the banter but I couldn’t help noticing how disinterested he seemed with the whole event. For those who haven’t met him, and that included me until then, he is nothing like his public image suggests. Noel is a cool, bright and decent bloke, nothing like the yob he is portrayed as.

We wandered out into the main hall and the stage was set up. Here we go, I thought, there is going to be a ‘Jam’ later. I chatted again with Mick Talbot who also didn’t know who would be playing, but the big grand piano, and the small drum kit, suggested it wasn’t going to be a Jam reunion. I cannot tell you how disappointed I was to see the Bootleg Beatles take to the stage. I mean, this was a tribute to the Jam, so the Bootleg fucking Beatles, what is that all about. So I was off into the bar again where we had a few more beers. Soon, I saw the menacing figure of Liam Gallagher wandering over.

“ Alright mate” “er yeah, alright Liam” ( I hadn’t met him before either, but he seemed to think I had ) “how’s it going” “Fooking great mate, fooking spot on, number 6!” He was talking about the chart position of his version of Carnation.

I asked him what the deal was with him dragging the Mirror journalist up onto the stage, and making him look a twat, he said the guy has been rubbishing him for fooking ages and just wouldn’t get off his back. We had a chat for quite a while about song writing and his latest stuff. Liam told me he would never release anything solo as he was a band man, he motioned over to Noel and said that if anything he wrote was considered good enough by the band, then the band would do it. He said he had a lot of respect for his band and he is not the kind of guy to swan about playing big shot doing solo stuff and, I have to say, I respected what he was saying because he meant it.

The thing with Liam is you get what is in front of you. He is refreshingly un guarded and very open, which is what makes it easy to quote and mis quote him, and from talking to him and Noel you can see they realise that, and really, genuinely, don’t give a toss what is written about them. Which is a shame as they are both decent guys often portrayed badly. For example, I read the next day in two papers about how badly Liam had behaved the night before, but I didn't see that, and nor did anyone else, only the papers it seems.

Liam told me he had written two songs considered good enough to go on the next album, one called Little James about his step son, and he talked about them enthusiastically. I asked him if they were from the same mould as Noel’s songs and he said why don’t you judge for yourself when you hear them. Then he started, “I get it, you are from the fooking press aren’t you” “No mate, you must be joking” “are you fooking sure” and Claire intervened and took Liam aside, she explained to him we were nothing to do with the press but he wasn’t really that bothered, just joking around and having a few beers.


He came back over a minute later and said “do you want to hear one of my songs” I said sure thing, have you got a tape then, he said no fooking way, but I’ll sing it to ya if ya like. “Go on then, I dared him“ and he did. Right there in the bar, to me and Claire, he sang an accappella version of one of the songs he wrote for the album.

And I have to say it is excellent, with a terrific lyric. When he finished he said “do you wanna hear my other one“ “go on then“ I dared again, so he did….... Liam, if nothing else, is an enthusiast. His music matters to him and his soul is right in it. When the next Oasis album is out, look for the Liam tracks because you are in for a surprise. Not for him is the Pop Star bit. Liam would be a lot happier playing to a few hundred people who shared his fever. I would love to have seen him at The Marquee.

Later on I ran into Dominic from The Sun who apologised for not making it to the Web Site launch, but had heard it had been cool, he say’s he will come next year, and then, at last a real Jam fan who was around at the time, enter Gary Crowley, who bought me a beer ( thanks for that ) Gary says he has just got to grips with the Net and will write some of his memories out for us for the Web Site. When you read this Gary, and I know you are, please don’t forget man, we would love to have something from you.

Finally our Carriage came to collect us and we were packed off with a Fire and Skill souvenir bag including, among other cool items, a vinyl copy of Liam’s Carnation, exactly like the old 7” singles used to be. That’s was a nice touch, now then who’s got a record player I can borrow.

Final word to Kat, great night out, well organised and thanks a lot but what was with the Bootleg Beatles??

Graham Willmott - October 1999