“I had no problem going back there,” states Liam Gallagher in Knebworth 22. Twenty-six years since Oasis’ legendary gigs drew 250,000 people to bask in the Gallaghers’ glory, Liam made the ballsy move to return to the iconic venue. Right across the Queen’s Jubilee weekend no less. Toby L.’s documentary captures this post-pandemic party, heralding the release of Liam’s third solo album ‘C’mon You Know‘, with the sort of swagger you’d expect from anything he touches.
Beginning seven days ahead of the first gig, Liam arrives for a site inspection entirely unable to remember the grand Knebworth House from his previous encounter. Well, if you can remember Oasis at Knebworth, you probably weren’t there. The memory may be foggy, but Liam’s trademark bravura is still intact. As anyone will know that saw As It Was, Liam’s 2019 documentary about his solo career, he’s still tremendous value for a quote. “Rock’n’roll has been done,” he says. “You fuck with it at your peril.”
For all the Liam-isms, the filmmakers make the wise decision to broaden the scope. Several super-fans heading to Knebworth are interviewed – including one gent who built his own watering hole, filled with Oasis merch, in his back garden during lockdown (the “Champagne Supernobar”). The best is Audrina, a young girl in her pre-teens who goes bonkers for all things Liam (her t-shirt reads: “In a world full of Kardashians, be a Gallagher”). The film also grabs soundbites from several support acts on the day – Goat Girl, Amyl and the Sniffers, Fat White Family and Kasabian. After two years of lockdowns, these are all musicians chomping at the bit to get in front of 80,000-plus people.
As the film moves from rehearsal to a rain-soaked build-up to the day itself, an obvious difference from Liam’s last Knebworth outing is the absence of his estranged brother Noel. Never mentioned by name (though referred to as “he” a couple of times), the lack of a mention is understandable, given that Liam recently claimed Noel blocked use of any Oasis songs in the film.
Oddly, this restriction does keep the focus strictly on Liam’s post-Oasis achievements, including powerful renditions of ‘The River’ and ‘Once’, from his 2019 album ‘Why Me? Why Not.‘, and ‘More Power’ (complete with choir) and ‘Better Days’ from ‘C’mon You Know’. Even if viewers get shortchanged by the lack of Oasis, by the end, the fans in attendance are elated, especially Audrina, who – in what might just be a set-up – is thrown Liam’s tambourine. Flowing throughout, there’s a genuine feeling of goodwill, despite the air of crapness surrounding Britain in 2022. “It’s still shit, innit?” says Liam, a state-of-the-nation address from Rkid that just about sums it up. His Knebworth 22 may never attain the near-mythical status of its Oasis predecessor, but – as the film shows – it arrived at a moment when generations of music lovers needed an excuse to get together, get teary-eyed and enjoy a boozy singalong.
- Director: Toby L.
- Release date: November 17 (in cinemas), December 7 (Paramount+)