Liam Gallagher at Glastonbury 2019 review – rehashed former glories

Pyramid stage
The younger Gallagher brother continued his Glasto residency with a set of transcendent Oasis classics – and the occasional unasked for solo song

After Lewis Capaldi performed on the Other stage wearing a T-shirt with Noel Gallagher’s face on it in response to his recent barbs about him, Liam Gallagher missed a trick not coming on in a T-shirt bearing Capaldi’s face, therefore completing the circle of trolling of the Gallagher brother most deficient in humour. Still, Liam’s Pyramid stage set isn’t exactly lacking in animosity towards his chèr frère: he labels him “a little fart” and mocks his dismissal of Oasis’s greatest hits.

Evidently it’s not a position Liam shares, dedicating a good half of his set to the band’s back catalogue. He comes on to the riff from Fucking in the Bushes, just as Oasis did at their massive Wembley shows in 2000, and performs Rock’n’Roll Star. It feels like a territorial land grab in the face of young pretenders – later he thanks Michael and Emily Eavis for “letting me continue my Glasto residency” – and to a degree he’s earned it: nobody looks more the part, with his hands clasped at the bottom of his spine, top lip hanging off the microphone like a rottweiler refusing to relinquish a rubber toy. Even from the outer fringes of the stacked main stage, where the speakers make the guitars of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory sound like a washing machine on the blink, the effect is still transcendent. But how much can he lay claim to the crown when it’s based on rehashing former glories – and, as Stormzy proved, when the concept of rock stardom has evolved light years beyond his 90s heyday?

Liam Gallagher performs on the Pyramid stage

Tumbleweed blows across the field whenever he plays most of his solo material. The leering Wall of Glass gets a mild roar of recognition, but For What it’s Worth and Bold are arduous plodders, and both find Gallagher on the defensive, his least convincing mode. He introduces a brand new song, River, presumably from his forthcoming second solo album – an announcement met with as much enthusiasm as a weather report announcing a return to the 30C weather, ie none. Coming back to Capaldi, this dull strummer of a song entrenches the age-old mystery of how such witty, quicksilver men fail to translate their verbal genius into decent songwriting.

Glastonbury is banning single use plastics. The world’s largest greenfield festival wants to avoid scenes of the area in front of its legendary stages being strewn with plastic after the shows have ended. In 2017, visitors to the festival got through 1.3m plastic bottles. 

For 2019, festival co-organiser Emily Eavis said “We’re asking people to bring a reusable bottle to the festival this year, which can be filled up from one of 37 WaterAid kiosks or 20 refill stations.”

People are also being encouraged to take other steps to limit their impact on the environment, such as using public transport to get to the venue, avoiding the use of undegradable wet wipes, not leaving their tents behind to prevent them ending up in landfill, and opting for biodegradable glitter instead of the plastic kind.

This year the festival will also feature a procession held by climate crisis activists Extinction Rebellion.

There’s no escaping the fact that Gallagher is a diminished figure. The sepia colouring of the visuals either side of the stage reflect the ageing of his voice – he no longer attempts the high notes of Columbia. He’s constantly jousting with an invisible antagonist, chin up as thousands of people show him their love. Fortunately for him, he still lays claim to some of the most fantastic, nonsensical rock songs of all time, the kind made to withstand wear and tear. It’s hard to imagine any other act at the festival has a run of hits like Gallagher’s home straight: Cigarettes and Alcohol, Wonderwall, Supersonic and Champagne Supernova, which he dedicates to the late Keith Flint. But it’s also hard not to imagine how glorious it would be if the brothers finally buried the hatchet and graced the Pyramid together. For all that they like to fire shots at one another, the diminishing returns of their respective solo careers reveal two men continuing to play themselves rather than one-up each other.


Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

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