Following the success of his fourth consecutive solo Number One album, C’MON YOU KNOW, Liam Gallagher delivered an almighty show at Knebworth – 25 years after his first appearance at the iconic venue, writes Howard Cohen (@TheHowardCohen).
Around the time our Liz was feeling a bit of a twinge and pulling out of her own party, Rkid Liam fucking Gallagher was ironing the bucket hat for his return to Knebworth. He might have felt a touch of déjà vu. This site was of course home to two Oasis super-gigs in 1996, the largest outdoor concerts in UK history at the time.
A salubrious and decadent stately home, Knebworth House has been accustomed to hosting some big egos across the centuries, but nobody with the undoubted rock star status of the youngest Oasis brother. It’s a huge space and was at full capacity, this time with 160,000 fans bringing all their expectations with them. The only question was: could Liam deliver?
On the evidence of this performance Liam has taken a proverbial shit all over his older brother’s status as being thought of as the greater talent that took Oasis to worldwide stardom in the mid-to-late 90s. The show began with a video montage that flashed more adjectives to describe the evening’s star guest than Kanye West puts in one verse. But once the music starts and that unmistakable Mancunian lilt that can only be Liam Gallagher’s vocals begins, it’s game over and he’s won in the first round.
Oasis classic ‘Hello’ is quickly followed by ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’, the ferocious opening track from the Oasis’ debut album, Definitely Maybe; by which point the entire audience is in a fit of raptures. In fact, the crowd sang every word so emphatically, it was almost impossible to hear the actual music at times.
And so they should. This was a scene of true, pent-up jubilation after a couple of summers in which the pandemic had wrecked the live music scene.
Yet this mass, karaoke-like act, craved by the audience, shouldn’t take away from Liam’s performance. He is one of the last true rockstars and this duo of shows only serves to confirm his prestige. It would be unfair to label the show an Oasis tribute act given the quality of his solo work, which shone through in a number of tracks; especially the anthemic ‘Once’, taken from his second solo studio album, Why Me? Why Not. This track has certainly by now become one of his classics.
The lesson from a night where the overriding best element is singing songs you know all the words to is to recognise the true song-writing brilliance of a man many, at one stage, didn’t take seriously as an artist.
Liam Gallagher brought out John Squire to play Champagne Supernova tonight at Knebworth. Unbelievable
— Mainly Oasis (@mainlyoasis) June 3, 2022
That may be because he behaved like a bellend for years. On reflection, though, his ability to transform simplistic, nursery rhyme-style lyrics into rock songs that still resonates strongly with the souls of legions of fans, gives LG a legendary musician status. Many greats write deeply introspective lyrics, but few achieve the magnetic, childlike simplicity of Kurt Cobain, Alex Turner and indeed LG.
Songs like ‘Some Might Say’, with its hopeful refrain “we will find a brighter day”, throttled its way out of the larynx of every person in attendance at Knebworth, and by the time the fireworks concluded, a John Squires-infused ‘Champagne Supernova’ left fans in no doubt that Liam remains a true rock god.
Just imagine if he got that band back together with his brother. After all these years, that still remains one of the most tantalising prospects in music. For now, those who came to Knebworth will be more than satisfied being in the presence of Rkid, LG.