Anticipation for Liam Gallagher’s Finsbury Park show has been high since it sold out last year, and joined by a host of comrades such as Richard Ashcroft, Wolf Alice and Loyle Carner, it proved itself to be not only a milestone in his solo career but one of this summer’s hottest tickets - quite literally.
It’s difficult to tell what could have made the punters pass out first, the lengthy queues to access an overpriced cider (or a bottle of water) or the infectious and tangible excitement that consumes the humid air and is exasperated by bucket hat-wearing revellers. After an afternoon spectacle of music (more about that later) and as the sun begins to think about setting, with the chants of “Liiiaaam, Liiiaaam” get even louder it’s time for ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Star’ himself to headline the main event. The introductory video that plays showing the singer striding towards the Finsbury Park stage is enough to get the first flares of the evening going before he’s even stepped foot on stage.
“You are here, we are all together. ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Star’,” he addresses the crowd by way of introduction to the opening track in his set when he does appear, and, as expected, everyone goes bloody mental.
Ripping straight into the meteoric ‘Morning Glory’, it’s followed by a portion of material from the singer’s solo album As You Were, an apt demonstration that even without that Oasis band he has the goods to pull in a mammoth crowd. ‘Greedy Soul’ and ‘Wall Of Glass’ with their country inflects sit well against the soaring guitar riffs which have become synonymous with the Gallagher brother.
The unmistakeable opening of ‘Supersonic’ sends the crowd into an even wilder frenzy, which we didn’t believe was possible, and it’s followed with a triumphant hat trick of ‘Some Might Say’, ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ (all with a little help from Bonehead) and ‘Live Forever’, before closing with the formidable ‘Wonderwall’. Ultimately it’s a set full of Oasis songs, with only a few nods to his solo stuff, but the crowd don’t seem to be too bothered, they came for the hits and that’s exactly what they get. It’s all Finsbury Park needs and more.
It wasn’t just all about the main man though, Liam Gallagher’s supporting cast showcased some scorching performances too;
Strolling on stage just before LG, and with no indication of his appearance, Richard Ashcroft played a surprise acoustic, four track set to an almighty reception. The collection of songs (‘Sonnet’, ‘Lucky Man’, ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ and ‘Bittersweet Symphony’) all taken from The Verve’s 1997 Urban Hymns record radiated around the park, inducing goosebumps in the 30 degree heat and uniting the biggest pre-Liam singalong of the day. It’s a truly magical moment.
Gnarly and frenzied, Wolf Alice glide into their sub-headline slot in North London and own it effortlessly, proving just why they are one of the most exciting live acts around right now. Ellie Rowsell snarls the lyrics to ‘Fluffy’ and ‘Yuk Foo’ from their first and second albums respectively, and evidences a completely juxtaposed, delicate vocal delivery on tracks like ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’, all paired with the rest of the band’s meteoric musicality.
Perhaps the furtherest removed soundscape from Liam Gallagher and his Britpop peers is smooth and woozy blissed-out indie outfit Easy Life. Taking care of things on the Second Stage, their jazz-tinged sonic jaunts basked just as much as their crowd did in the glorious sunshine. Offering songs from their Creature Habits Mixtape, tracks like ‘Pockets’ and ‘Ice Cream’ are best consumed in festival fields like this.
Finsbury Park’s sizzling sunshine brought a whole new meaning to ‘Sun Of Jean’ when Loyle Carner took to the stage. Backed by his DJ, the rapper delved into his debut album Yesterday’s Gone to help warm up the crowd even more.
The trio blended a mixture of tracks from their debut Hills End and their second record For Now into their short 30 minute and football-style chants ensued minutes after they made their entrance on stage. Although hailing from Australia, the three-piece’s quintessential Manchester sound has won them a legion of fans in the UK, and it’s lapped up by Finsbury Park.