This summer, Liam Gallagher returned to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs. The sold out two nights at Knebworth, 26 years after his band Oasis played there, was a marked achievement for the aging rocker who has been performing solo since 2016. This new documentary follows a similar path to last September’s Oasis: Knebworth 96, looking at the build up to the gig and what Gallagher’s legacy means to those who attended.
There are no shortage of fans eager to let cameras into their homes, or in one man’s case a converted annex called ‘Champagne Su-bar-nova. It’s not all middle-aged men in bucket hats, however – there are testimonials from an Oasis-mad priest, a young child following in her mother’s fandom, and a Belgian fan who chose to go to Knebworth instead of her exams. They’re all endearingly passionate, seeing the music as an escape from their troubles. Less convincing is the political parallels, using current affairs as mirroring Oasis’ rise out of Thatcher’s Britain.
Love him or loathe him, you can never accuse Gallagher of softening with age. Now 50, the swaggering walk and expletive-laden wisdom is still present and correct. There’s the odd worrying aside (“do anything nowadays and you’re f***ing stoned to death, aren’t ya?”), but principally he’s a man who mirrors the desires of his audience. He wants nothing more than to get on the stage and belt out the old songs rather than going through an “acid jazz” phase as he puts it (likely a dig at his brother Noel’s past experimentation).
Just as Liam’s absence loomed over the Oasis Knebworth film, Noel Gallagher is an unseen antagonist mostly referred to as “him” by his brother. Liam recently tweeted that Noel blocked all Oasis songs from being used in the doc, a hilarious act of pettiness that renders the ultra-nostalgic film impotent. There are impressively shot performances of his solo material, but the absence of the huge hits makes the wistful conversations seem farcical.
Knebworth 22 will be for Oasis enthusiasts only, although the concerts themselves suggest there are still a lot of those. Despite the absence of the tunes that brought the crowds, even Liam’s staunchest critics may feel a grudging sense of admiration that Rock & Roll’s eternal rebel will never change.