The former Oasis frontman proved that, even without brother Noel, he has more than enough hits to provide a string of unforgettable Glastonbury moments
Liam Gallagher was put on this earth for moments like this. His set on the Pyramid Stage on Saturday night after a glorious day of sunshiiiine was so full of ‘Glastonbury moments’ that it’ll be hard for any act this weekend to better him.
He came out of the blocks like Usain Bolt running for a bus. He started the show with a pre-recorded chant of “Championes, championes”, presumably a reference to his beloved Manchester City as well as to his own rejuvenated fortunes in recent years. His stage set featured a banner reading: ‘MCFC Spezial’ as well as his usual ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’ sign. As the chant faded out, Oasis’ classic opening music blared out over the field as Liam strutted on stage. And nobody struts quite like Liam.
He opened the show proper with ‘Rock N’ Roll Star’, provoking an instant singalong. Liam’s voice sounded as good as it ever has, and thankfully the sound was infinitely louder than it was at his Finsbury Park show around this time last summer. Flares burst into light across the crowd – blue, red, purple and white smoke filling the air along with a thick scent of sulphur. It smelt like pure adrenaline.
His first words were a gripe about the temperature (I thought nobody ever mentioned the weather?), which had finally cooled off after one of the hottest days in the festival’s history. “Someone told me it was going to be dead hot here,” announced Liam. “I’ve got a parka sitting in my hotel idle and now I’m here freezing my tits off.”
He followed up with another unimpeachable Oasis classic, ‘Morning Glory’. The handful of people out of the thousands present who hadn’t been singing ‘Rock N’ Roll Star’ now joined in. If rock’n’roll is, at one level, about community then this was a true moment of coming together. Liam shook his maracas, at home as ever leading this mass chorus of roaring voices.
The energy, perhaps inevitably, did drop a little as he played a string of four recent solo tracks, which began with comeback single ‘Wall of Glass’. Before ‘Greedy Soul’ he cryptically told the audience: “Right then you’re looking beautiful as always, but I’ve got to dedicate this next song to Ken Dodd. Now he was a fucking beauty.” Both ‘For What It’s Worth’ and ‘Shockwave’ sounded great, but the trouble is – as the old adage says – you can’t make new old friends, and that’s exactly what Oasis songs are. For some of us, they’re old mates we’re ecstactic to be reunited with. For a new generation of fans, many of whom would never have had the chance to see Oasis live, this would have been a moment they’ve waited for a long, long time.
He rewarded those fans with ‘Columbia’ and ‘Slide Away’, which he dedicated to a fan in an emotional moment which touched on Liam’s tender side. “Last year I met this woman and she wasn’t too well,” he explained. “She asked if I got to Glastonbury would I dedicate a song to her. Well I’m here, and hopefully you are too. She’s called Lauren and this is ‘Slide Away’.”
It wouldn’t be a Liam gig without a little dig at brother Noel. “This one’s called ‘Roll With It’,” he announced. “Apparently it’s shit, but I dig it.” Earlier this year, Noel was interviewed by Dermot O’Leary on ‘Reel Stories’ on BBC 2, and discussed the fact that Blur’s ‘Country House’ had beaten ‘Roll With It’ to number one in 1995. Noel said at the time: “The whole shame about the thing is the two songs are shit, that’s it. If it was you know, ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ and ‘Girls and Boys’, fair enough. But ‘Country House’ is fucking dog shit. ‘Roll With It’ has never been played by anybody since the band split up. So that tells it’s own story.”
Well, now ‘Roll With It’ has been played live and the crowd’s reaction should act as an efficient rebuttal to Noel’s argument. “There’s no way that’s shit,” announced Liam afterwards. “It don’t sound shit, it don’t look shit. Next time you see the little fart you tell him.”
He played a trio of solo track next: ‘Bold’, ‘Universal Gleam’ and, for the first time live, ‘The River’. After that, it was a pure Oasis greatest hits run. “I want to dedicate this to Michael and Emily Eavis for letting me continue my Glastonbury residency. Next year will be the hat trick,” he said before ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’. In a set with no shortage of massive moments, ‘Wonderwall’ might just have been the biggest. From where I was stood it seemed like every single soul in the field was singing every word. As the song faded out, Liam uttered just one word: “Biblical.” A fitting review.
There was still time for a blistering ‘Supersonic’ and then a heart-tugging, piano-led version of ‘Champagne Supernova’. He dedicated that last song to “the one and only Keith Flint.” That line about “Wipe that tear away now from your eye” applied to more than a few of those present to witness yet another Moment.
2020 will be Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary, and the line-up is expected to reflect the festival’s glorious history. On this form, Liam has to be invited to complete that hat-trick. This was pure, uncut rock’n’roll at it’s very best. Biblical.