Liam Gallagher returns home to further grow the champions vibe in the blue half of Manchester before two huge nights at Knebworth.
How do you warm up for two nights on the site of one of your greatest achievements? Just play an intimate warm up gig on home soil.
Liam Gallagher is a rock star for the ages. Everyone knows his past with Oasis; his legacy is already cemented. After a string of successful and solid solo albums, Liam is, again, rightfully treading the boards at the biggest venues. These are the stages his huge presence need to be gracing.
With his new album, C’mon You Know, on course to hit top spot in the charts this week, Liam Gallagher is every inch the renaissance man. Not many would have pegged this Gallagher brother to be headlining two nights at Knebworth on his own, but with good rock and roll songs, bags of attitude, a connection with the people and great band around him, Liam is flourishing.
Before the main man took to the stage, there was the small matter of up and coming London outfit, Goat Girl, and other local heroes, The Charlatans.
Goat Girl are a four piece band from London. In addition to supporting Liam Gallagher in Manchester, they will be on the bill at Knebworth and have found themselves supporting acts such as Foals, Sam Fender, Metronomy and Sleaford Mods. The Etihad is arguably their biggest show to date (before Knebworth),
Whilst the response is a little mooted from the crowd, they put in a solid performance that showcases their post punky psych rock sound perfectly. Singer, Clottie Cream, remarks before Crack; ‘When we were writing this album, we always joked we’d love to play in a stadium…thanks to Liam for having us.’ The heartfelt comment garners plenty of cheers before the highly danceable track provides a mid set high point.
As their set concluded, there was some crowd participation encouraged from the stage; the front rows duly oblige as the band leave to warm applause.
It must be a challenge playing to a crowd, early doors, with one act on their mind. Plus, it’s Wednesday at 6.25pm and plenty of people are still filing in.
Side note: I was in the queue for my tickets when the bassists mother came through worried that she was going to miss their performance. To the bassists mum, I hope you made it in in time!
The Charlatans need no introduction. Three decades plus worth of material and countless hit albums, the Cheshire band do exactly what you expect of them. In a set of around 60 minutes, they dish up hit after hit after hit.
With the stadium fuller but masses still growing, The Charlatans showed their consummate professionalism. ‘How you doing Manchester?’ announces the ever flamboyant Tim Burgess as the band launch straight into Weirdo with the sun peaking above the roof and rearing its head.
Can’t Get Out Of Bed follows with Burgess aiming kisses in various directions to the crowd. The hits keep coming with the gospel infused Just When You’re Thinking Things Over and a huge version of One To Another.
‘It’s really great to be here,’ remarks Burgess before the supremely funky You’re So Pretty, We’re So Pretty. 20 something years on, this song and that baseline are still to die for.
The Only One I Know raises the temperature further still as more arms and pints are thrown in the air. There is also a flare let off, such is the growing trend in football stadia. There is a great crowd response before a dedication of North Country Boy to a certain Liam Gallagher.
How High is aired before Nick McCabe, most notably of The Verve, joins the band for the perennial Charlatans closer, Sproston Green. The crowd at front are encouraged by Tim; there are hands aloft as the song kicks into life. With his job done, Burgess holds his arms aloft and claps the crowd before sauntering off as the band play out. ‘Have a great night – see you later,’ is the closing gambit.
Chanpiones chants announce Liam’s imminent arrival – its greeted with a mixed bag of a response; cheers/boos depending on your footballing persuasion. ‘We put this festival on you bastards,’ screams around the Etihad as Fuckin’ In The Bushes whips the crowd up. As Liam strides onstage, he beats his chest with his maracas. ‘Yes Manchester!’ is the cry before a little I Am The Walrus…’we are all together….’ Indeed we are.
Hello is the perfect opener for Liam. The ‘It’s good to be back,’ lyric is delivered with venom before Rock And Roll Star. COME ON MANCHESTER screams Liam to the baying masses. Flares aloft, the crowd pops. ‘As we’re at the home of the champions, it’s only right we do the Poznań,’ encourages Gallagher before a blistering opening trio is completed with a euphoric Morning Glory.
Whilst the Oasis songs are a vital part of the set, equally as vital are Liam’s new songs; or recent songs. Wall Of Glass is the only cut from his debut solo LP. ‘You’re all looking beautiful… as usual,’ exudes Liam before the glam rock stomp of Shockwave. Why Me? Why Not! comes with another Beatles lick in an interpolation of Come Together.
Thanks are offered throughout the night. Liam is clearly bowled over by the crowd; the feeling is mutual. New single, Everything’s Electric has the masses singing along. Quite impressive for a song that has only been around a few months. Another new single, Better Days, shows off its Tomorrow Never Knows stylings in its rhythm. Liam Gallagher has always worn his influences on his usually well tailored jacket sleeve.
One of the most surprising diversions comes in the form of a one-two of an emphatic Stand By Me and Roll It Over. Stand By Me has Liam stepping back from the mic with his fists clenched aloft as the crowd sing the chorus for him. The latter is a very deep Oasis cut; tucked away at the end of Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants. It has never been played live by any member of Oasis…ever. It’s joyous to hear it, complete with a full choir backing the band. Liam claims it was for all the old school Oasis fans – ‘cos they’ll remember.’ If they didn’t remember, they can enjoy rediscovering it.
After Slide Away, dedicated to ‘the lovebirds,’ Liam serves up a platter of solo tracks. Newbie, More Power utilises the choir again. C’mon You Know prompts Liam to ask if they’re loud enough…you can guess the response. The Arctic Monkeys’ tinged Diamond In The Dark is another new track that is set to be a staple of his set for years to come. Another staple from his solo output closes the main set; Once is a huge singalong. There is still a deep resonance for the songs that Liam sings and as long as he is writing them and putting them out, people will take them under their wing and prepare them to fly.
As far as encores go, you would struggle to find a more ardent clutch of songs to wow a crowd. It is a wall-to-wall Oasis singalong. ‘Don’t listen to anyone that says this is bad for you…none of that vaping nonsense,’ is how Liam sets up Cigarette’s & Alcohol. This is a tune for the ages. Noel might have written ’em…but Liam sings ’em. His unique passion still floods out of every word.
Wonderwall provides another mass singalong, but it is the closing duo of Live Forever and Champagne Supernova that truly send the crowd home happy. When Liam is singing we’re gonna live forever…you believe him. You feel like you will. When he sings every chorus of Champagne Supernova you feel 10 feet tall. Liam Gallagher and the people of Manchester, together, in unison, are an undeniable force.
Before Liam departs, he puts his hood up, gets on his knees, and worships the crowd. The feeling is reciprocated and then some in swathes of cheers. People brought flares and set them off aplenty throughout the night, but Liam raises them with a massive firework display to signal the end of a wonderful and triumphant homecoming.
If you’re going to Knebworth, you are in for a treat. Liam Gallagher is a true rock star. Long may he continue to tear it up.
Tickets for Liam Gallagher’s remaining tour dates can be found here. All of the UK is on the list!
Categories: Live Reviews