He came, he saw, he conquered; not once but twice! Liam Gallagher made a triumphant return to Knebworth for two sold out gigs to 85,000 people each night, 26 years after headlining with Oasis.
Last Saturday felt like we were all going on pilgrimage to see the second coming, tens of thousands descending upon Knebworth with Liam conducting the sermon back in the promised land of Knebworth! As soon as I stepped off the coach at Knebworth all I could see was a sea of bucket hats, Adidas Gazelle trainers, and mostly Pretty Green garments!
I had been looking forward to this gig from the moment it was announced last year and the lineup today was second to none. The day was opened by the delightful Goat Girl, who eased the early crowd in with their melodic sounds in the sunshine that had just started to creep through the clouds. Next up were the eccentric Fat White Family whose opening number was either one of the best rock ‘n’ roll performances I’ve ever seen or some form of exorcism, I’m still not sure what I witnessed. Lead singer Lias was smothered in butter (I know?!) wearing just nude coloured pants and made his way into the crowd shouting and screaming into the mic, laying down amongst everyone as well as on the barriers. He then proceeded to lay on his back in the pit rolling in the sand that has been placed there whilst the band on stage continued to play through. It’s hard to describe fully what happened but I won’t be forgetting that performance for a while!
To calm things down after the madness and excitement of Fat White Family was Mercury Music Prize winner, Michael Kiwanuka. His soulful numbers were a joy and a contrast between what had just been and what was to come – it was a particular highlight that he opened with ‘You Ain’t The Problem’ which is a particular favourite of mine from his ‘Kiwanuka’ album.
There were a few bands, in my opinion, that could have been chosen to warm up the crowd for Liam’s arrival but Kasabian was impeccably selected for the occasion. I’ve always been of the opinion that Kasabian picked up the batten of the lad rock band when Oasis called it a day in 2009. A band was needed for the culture and Kasabian fitted the bill very well, not to tarnish their music as this would be a discredit to them. Serge is now fronting the band after Tom’s departure and has made that role his own. Tom was known for his energy and Serge has brought that in his own way to complement the back catalogue and also with his influence on the new material. We are treated to a fine blend of songs which included ‘Club Foot’, ‘Underdog’, ‘ALYGATYR’, ‘Shoot The Runner’, ‘SCRIPTVRE’, ‘L.S.F’, and ‘Fire’ – the crowd bouncing to ‘Fire’ was impressive, to say the least!
I had the feeling of nerves, excitement, and pure adrenalin knowing that the time for LG had come to enter the stage! The walk to enter the pit with the other photographers (Wilko, Rachel to name a few) was a pure buzz as we saw members of the crew including Liam’s photographer, Charlie Lightening, for who I have the utmost respect and admiration. You could hear the crowd singing along to the music being played over the PA and this gave you an indication of what was to follow. I’ll never forget the moment as we turned the corner to enter the pit, I have never seen so many people in one place in all my life! Wherever you looked there was just a sea of people, old and young. Liam has managed, successfully, to capture the younger audiences to his gigs along with those who have been following him since the early years in the 90s.
The Manchester City champions chant rung out followed by the customary ‘F@*kin’ in the Bushes’ – the minute this tune rings out the energy that I could feel behind me from the crowd was absolutely electric! Liam enters the stage to the adulation of the 85,000-strong crowd and launches straight into the Oasis number ‘Hello’ – a fitting way to start the set!
Two further Oasis classics followed with ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ and ‘Morning Glory’ and that’s our cue to leave the pit. Liam then says over the mic ‘You press better make me look good, it won’t be hard though! I have seen you posting pictures of me though with 8 chins so sort it out, I know where you live’ Classic Liam banter!
A quadruple of solo numbers are next which included ‘Everything’s Electric’ and ‘Better Days’ from the recent no 1 album ‘C’mon You Know’. A real goosebump moment occurred for me during ‘Stand By Me’ with the sheer volume of the crowd singing along. I’d later see that a guy proposed to his girlfriend during the song as well. A very rare outing of ‘Roll It Over’ was amazing to hear given that it was never played in a live capacity by Oasis and only played by Liam during his gig the day before and also in Manchester in the week.
‘Slide Away’ was dedicated to the guru (in his own words) that is his missus Debbie Gwyther, with ‘More Power’ being dedicated to Bonehead, who was due to be on the tour prior to his ill health (we all wish you a speedy recovery Bonehead!).
The title track of the new album ‘C’mon You Know’ is one of my favourites and really transfers well from the record to the live environment with its driving drum beats and vocals. Liam’s vocals are really on point tonight and none more so than on ‘Once’ which concludes the first part of the set with a firework ending!
When Liam returns to the stage we are then all taken back to 1996! A good majority of the crowd would have been here for those Oasis gigs and the tunes to follow would rekindle these days. ‘Some Might Say’, ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’, ‘Supersonic’ provide a sterling start to the encore, Liam points and calls up a young fan to the stage to hand them his maraca’s, telling them ‘look after them’. A nice gesture that fan will always remember and to top it all ‘Wonderwall’ is then dedicated to ‘the little geezer’.
If the day and gig couldn’t get any better, Liam introduces to the stage the man that got him into music in the first place, Mr John Squire, from The Stone Roses to play on ‘Champagne Supernova’ which just takes the song to another level and a fitting way to end!