Liam Gallagher’s triumphant return to Knebworth almost felt like an Oasis reunion

“Do we have Oasis fans on the pitch?” asked Liam Gallagher, claiming perhaps the most rhetorical of questions. “From 1996? The roar of the crowd suggested Gallagher wasn’t the only one to return to the stage of his former band’s greatest triumph: the Knebworth gigs that defined Britpop 26 years ago at the same Stevenage stately home .

Back then, few would have invested the money for Liam to be the first Gallagher brother to sell that crowd again after the group’s acrimonious split in 2009. Songwriter Noel has always been the mastermind behind the anthems and has refused to reform Oasis — or even reconcile with his younger brother — ever since. But Liam’s trump card is understanding how much his past means to so many people. He realizes that it doesn’t matter who’s on drums (or maybe, in the ultimate insult to Noel, who’s on guitar), as long as he performs the songs people want to hear.

As Gallagher is about to turn 50, suffers from such chronic arthritis and is considering a double hip replacement, there were times last night when I felt like no time had elapsed since the 90s. On the big screen, he was just over 29, all sideburns and sunglasses, wrapped in a white Parka and brandishing his trademark tambourine. The largely male audience was also happy to relive their 90s glory days, back in their bucket hats, arms around each other and drinking enough to forget they had won kids and a mortgage since their last stay in Knebworth.

The nearly two-hour set list did not disappoint them. Gallagher wisely sandwiched solo material between meaty bits of Oasis songs, starting with a trio of full-throttle earth-shattering: Hello, Rock ‘N Roll Star and Morning Glory. Although Gallagher’s latest solo album, C’Mon You Know, is currently atop the album charts, it seemed he would rather have been here with Oasis than alone.

Yet his solo material is not entirely an afterthought. After three albums, Gallagher has carefully crafted new classics for those who crave more. Last night, Wall of Glass, Everything’s Electric and Once over held their ground, bellowing through the crowd as much as any Oasis hit. More Power was particularly striking for its sensitive lyrics buried in a wall of sound. But others, like Diamond In The Dark, felt like filler.

Yet Gallagher’s impeccable rock star swagger never wavered, hands clenched tightly behind his back or a pair of maracas shaking menacingly. His banter between songs was, as always, kept to a minimum – a shame given that Gallagher’s acerbic humor always kept him from slipping into rock star parody. He briefly dedicated songs to his mother, his beloved Man City, his fiancée Debbie Gwyther and “the massive Stevenage”. More touchingly, he told us Rock ‘N Roll Star was for former Oasis guitarist Bonehead, who was supposed to join him on stage but is undergoing treatment for tonsil cancer.

As a reminder, fans got exactly what they came for. A cheeky barrage of Oasis greatest hits had the crowd bouncing off a sea of ​​flattened paper pints, singing every word so loudly that Gallagher was at times completely drowned. “Biblical, biblical, biblical,” he marveled amidst a deafening rendition of Wonderwall. This is perhaps the closest thing to an Oasis meeting.

On tour in the UK and Ireland until September;

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