Damascus student Layla Muir writes this music review exclusively for Emerging, a partnership between The Courier and Damascus College to create a platform for young people to publish their work. The following is her take on former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher's latest album Knebworth 22.
"Knebworth, I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together," Liam Gallagher states as a rather poetic opening line, greeting the crowd with the iconic Beatles phrase.
It is the first thing heard on Gallagher's new album Knebworth 22 (Live), which was released on August 11, 2023. The 16-song collection from his headline shows at Knebworth Park in the United Kingdom last year, jam packed with Oasis classics, fan favourites, guitar feedback, ultimate swagger, and the intangible soul that is always laced within Gallagher's performances.
His return to Knebworth marks 26 years since the historical 1996 Oasis shows, taking place in the very same field.
With a rather fitting start, Gallagher opens the show with the Oasis classic Hello to the crowd's absolute delight. The opening beats allure a rapture of applause from the feverish audience.
Swiftly following, we hear the punchy beats of Rock n Roll Star, the opening track for Oasis' debut album Definitely Maybe.
"I wanna dedicate this one to Bonehead," Gallagher starts, devoting the song to long-time friend and former rhythm guitarist, Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs, who has been recovering from cancer treatment.
There's a sad nostalgia to the return, but also, a defiant, comforting confidence that embraces change and encourages the crowds to live for the moment.
In a field stand the fathers, who 26 years ago stood face void of wrinkles, enamoured by some kind of pretty substance, a lukewarm beer in hand and the glory of youth and its ever present glow so luminescent. Their heads now peppered with specks of grey and their faces with wear that can only be inflicted by the passing of time.
In the same vast spread of grass stands the children of today. The youth who were cursed by their birth year, ready to see what they always wished had been their teens.
Or, at least ready to see a reincarnation of that greatness. The greatness in a new form. Their elders' recollections, memories, and stories were unveiled a second time to become their own.
The singer goes into a three-track portion of his solo hits. Wall of Glass, Shockwave and Everything's Electric are colossal songs off the three respective solo Liam Gallagher albums: As You Were, Why Me? Why Not? and C'mon You Know.
Following that we hear a duo of much-loved Oasis tunes in the guise of Roll it Over and Slide Away. The reception to the fan favourite album track, Slide Away, can be heard loud and clear on the album.
One of Oasis' more honest and vulnerable tunes further stakes its claim as a timeless love song. The audible swagger of the melody, the signature riffs all a reminiscent collection of those glory days 26 years prior and the era of music where Oasis ruled the scene.
And however pleasant and recognisable those similarities might be, they can't extinguish the bold, undeniable difference of this thing we call the present. The calendar's absence of a 19, the creased foreheads, the abundance of phone screens, the clarity of the jumbotrons, the addition of solo songs, the new generation of youth and the untouched space where a particular guitarist once stood, all a haunting reminder of the fading past and the elusive idea of change.
A shift in tone in the set is made clear with a succession of sedate ballads. We hear the melancholic, More Power, which holds a sad, regretful melody as the song seems to question the past and the wonderment of what if.
Succeeding that, is the contradicting statement of all contradicting statements in the form of Once. The Liam Gallagher solo song coins the lyrics: "When the dawn came up, you felt so inspired to do it again, but it turns out, you only get to do it once".
It highlights the unbelievable fact the prestige of the past can never be repeated, but here Gallagher is crooning those very words at his second headline Knebworth show.
To bring the album to a close we hear a collection of the most loved and inescapable Oasis songs.
From Cigarettes and Alcohol, the tune that resonates with the generational struggle of the English working class. Some Might Say and Supersonic, two brash singles with the signature Oasis ostentation.
And of course, the song heard by virtually the entire population, whether that be at a drunk karaoke session, the first guitar chords you learned or just from existing: Wonderwall.
Bringing the album to a close, the seven-minute masterpiece that is Champagne Supernova. In a beautiful fashion, Gallagher portrays the impalpable, eerie, and wistful facet that is nostalgia. The final lyric echoes with an elegant conclusiveness: "How many special people change? How many lives are living strange? Where were you while we were getting high?"
An evocative haze seems to have lingered over the field and indistinct murmurs indicate the aftermath of the gig and the conclusion of the album. Men and boys, happy and sad, tired and hopeful, experienced and innocent, old and young stand shoulder to shoulder, under the spell of the world's most unchanging and eternally generous experiences; music.
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