Stream It Or Skip It: 'Liam Gallagher: Knebworth 22' on Paramount+, With The Ex-Oasis Frontman Returning To the Biggest Stage In British Music - Decider
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Stream It Or Skip It: 'Liam Gallagher: Knebworth 22' on Paramount+, With The Ex-Oasis Frontman Returning To the Biggest Stage In British Music - Decider

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Opening Shot: A helicopter is on approach to Knebworth. Unlike for the legendary Oasis shows of 1996, only Liam Gallagher is on board. And he’s ready to get to it. “As far as I’m concerned, rock and roll has been done. It’s been completed. You fuck with it at your own peril. I don’t wanna be a dunce. I don’t to make a fusion of fucking jazz with this or that. Fuck that. I’ll leave that to the bellends. I just want to get on that fucking stage like a caged animal. I just want to fucking save all the energy and get on there and just fucking let rip, d’you know what I mean?” 
The Gist: Gigs at Knebworth have usually gone down in history, whether it was Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, or Oasis, Liam Gallagher’s former group with his brother Noel, who famously played two giant nights at the vast open air venue back in 1996. So with all of that said, and with Noel even putting up a squabble in the press about rights issues for Oasis material (on Twitter, Liam dismissed his brother as “an angry squirt”), the time was of course just right for the younger Gallagher to book two solo shows at Knebworth and perform for almost 200,000 fans who each bought a ticket to see him. Take that, Noel!
Liam Gallagher: Knebworth 22 is broken into two parts. In the first section, background on the solo shows is established, with Liam announcing on Instagram that fans’ personal testimonials will be included in the doc – “He’s always just staying true to his sound,” young Audrina from the UK asserts on her vid; “he’s like, ‘Jog on, mate, you’re not gonna affect my life!” – and his being driven around the Knebworth grounds. He says the fans wanted these shows, and since Noel wouldn’t do it, here he’s come to save the day. But there’s also a sense of reassurance here, as Knebworth 22 tries to contextualize where the UK has come politically and socially since the 1996 shows, and where the country stands now in the wake of COVID and lockdown life. “People need to get outside and just be with other people and have fun,” Oasis/Liam superfan Simon says. 
After a bit more soft-pedaled analysis of Liam’s career as a solo artist and trajectory back to the biggest stages, Knebworth 22 transitions toward the performances themselves, which for this doc were edited into one set. And there, featured in numerous shots of the crowd, are the fans like Audrina and Simon, whose testimonials were featured in part one. 
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? 2021 saw the release of Oasis Knebworth 1996, a doc revisiting the Britpop heroes’ era-defining two-night stand at the outdoor venue when they were at their performative zenith. And back in 2019, the documentary Liam Gallagher: As It Was offered plenty of personal access to the famously irascible singer and frontman as he mounted his popular comeback as a solo artist. 
Our Take: “I’ve heard people go, ‘Oh, you never go back to Knebworth. Once it’s done it’s done.’ Well I do, you fucking shitbags, d’you know what I mean? And half of the people who are saying it, shouldn’t have ever fucking done it, anyway.” One thing Liam Gallagher: Knebworth 22 makes abundantly clear is that the singer, songwriter, and former Oasis frontman hasn’t lost his knack for generating a hilariously acerbic pull quote. But there’s at least some softening here, too, some honest perspective on not only the Oasis narrative in full scope but where all of that left him as a solo artist, and what he still means to the fans. Like the guy who’s constructed a cozy backyard pub/shrine to the Gallagher brothers, or the little girl whose enjoyment of Liam Gallagher’s music helped her overcome a life-threatening medical condition. “It’s not my moment,” Liam says of his music now, and playing the Knebworth shows. “It’s the fans’ moment. I’m just here to entertain them.” Growth. Maturity. But if the Liam G. of 1996 were to hear that bit of humility, he might eat his bucket hat for breakfast.
But beyond the perspective Knebworth 22 offers, it’s the music that still matters. Gallagher’s voice is strong, his maracas and tambos are in tow, and he busts out his onstage clown walks and arms-back singing stance. His band totally rips on solo material like “Wall of Glass” and the Primal Scream-y stomp of “Everything’s Electric,” and when it comes on top, with performances of Oasis classics like “Hello,” “Stand by Me,” “Cigarettes & Alcohol,” “Supersonic” and “Champagne Supernova” – the last as a final encore with guest John Squire of the Stone Roses, who guested on the same song in 1996  – Liam and his band make it happen.
Sex and Skin: Nothing here.
Parting Shot: “It’s a big fucking thing, all these people, and watching everyone’s fucking faces, the joy that brings and the tears and stuff like that, all the happiness, the word “biblical” doesn’t do it justice.” And in one of the last shots of Knebworth 22, Liam Gallagher tosses his tambourine to his biggest fan of the next generation. 
Sleeper Star: Once Liam Gallagher’s Knebworth performance ramps into its encore portion, which includes a stretch run of Oasis classics like “Some Might Say,” “Cigarettes & Alcohol,” and “Wonderwall,” the level of raucous glee reached in the audience of hundreds of thousands of fans is not only palpable, but transporting. It makes you want to attend a loud rock show. 
Most Pilot-y Line: Liam Gallagher has never balked at sharing his particular philosophies on life and music stardom. Here he is, describing his headspace in the immediate run-up to the two-night stand at Knebworth. “I mean, I can be an arrogant cunt when I want to be, but I ain’t stupid. I might look it some days, but I ain’t. No, I didn’t think that I would ever get back to doin’ that. I didn’t think [Oasis] would ever get back to do fucking arenas. So I try and just steer clear of every cunt. ‘Oh you look nice.’ Fuck off. ‘Oh, you wearing that–’ get out. Even me kids are like, ‘How’s it going?’ You know how it’s fucking going. Are you having a laugh? I don’t think a boxer wants a massage, he just wants to go in there and rip his fucking opponent’s head off. So, just try and dodge the comedians before you go on. And when you come off stage for the second night, it’s like, alright you smart ass cunts, you want to know what’s going on? Check this shit out.” 
Our Call: STREAM IT. Oasis and Liam Gallagher fans have a lot of perspective to unpack here, and much of it from a veteran rock star who’s never been very interested in that. But Knebworth 22 also more than delivers as a straight-up concert film.
Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @glennganges
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