Taking refuge in their nostalgia and picking up arms to defend every facet of this release, faded Ian Brown haircuts still maintained some rudimentary shape of “I lived the 1990s,” Knebworth ‘22 is a treat for those who cannot move on. Nostalgic bait and reunion with purpose are similar – but not identical. Liam Gallagher pouring over the best of his works from three decades ago and touring it is the equivalent of The Stone Roses frontman Brown bringing his works to the stage and doing it with a backing track. Pulp and Blur get a free pass – at least their material is genuine and new compared to this live album release, which is just covers of club-dominating Oasis songs and forgettable Gallagher solo pieces.
Nasally ramblings from Gallagher should be no surprise – and they feature from start to finish here. Hello opens up with the “good to be back,” promise, odd considering Gallagher has never left and continually tried to recapture these glory days. What better way to do so than to just give in and play the unchallenging hits? Strong instrumentals are worth sticking around for, but the biblical scuff Gallagher has ridden the social media wave on is as tiring as it is simple for the stage. Despite playing at the same famed place Oasis did back in their heyday, it is the originals Gallagher has through his recent works which stick out better than covers of his and Noel’s decades-old, overrated pieces. Wall of Glass has a nasty little bit of guitar riding through it – jutting out and bringing new life to a tired singer rattling off the hits.
There are times when static has more interest than this – trying to pop your eardrum back into place through Everything’s Electric gains or loses no artistry. Gallagher’s audience interjections are no more than introducing the title of a song everyone knows – and the lack of cheers which follow set up the dud audience listening in to Roll It Over. Regardless of the songwriting quality, of where Gallagher finds himself at this stage in his career, selling out Knebworth but feeling like a sell-out to his early material and the ghost of the 1990s, the crowd is the death of Knebworth ‘22. A shame, too, since Roll It Over is the high point of this live recording.
“Is this what you came for?,” Gallagher asks through his solo career track More Power. No, it is not. Most in attendance want their glory days back. It does not happen, no amount of backing vocalists or orchestral feel can change this. Gallagher still maintains his voice well enough – though it was not all that good to begin with. His new record stuff from C’mon You Know is still particularly relevant and interesting though, a great shame it is buried midway through and never revisited. Once the Oasis covers are in full swing, Knebworth ‘22 becomes a nostalgia-packed show of “do you remember this experience from thirty years ago? No? Ah, well, here it is again.” Packing into an iconic field where grass was sold by the handful on eBay because Gallagher had looked at it showcases the infectious hivemind gobbling up Knebworth ‘22.