There’s no doubting that Liam Gallagher is a rock’n’roll star, but it never does any harm to remind people of that seemingly obvious fact, and that’s exactly what the former Oasis frontman did to introduce himself last Friday at this year’s Leeds Festival.
The Manchester-born 44-year-old was by no means the only one such present at the three-day West Yorkshire event either, though there were fewer than in previous years as other genres such as pop and rap were given more of a look-in to cater for the increasingly youthful audience it attracts.
Gallagher, displaying his trademark surliness to good effect, wasn’t even top of the bill, though that is surely just a matter of time once his debut solo album, As You Were, comes out in October.
He was playing a warm-up slot for headliners Muse, following on from the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and Blossoms and paving the way for Saturday and Sunday headliners Kasabian and Eminem respectively, plus other acts including Bastille, Two Door Cinema Club, Major Lazer, Korn, Wolf Alice and Jimmy Eat World.
Rock’n’Roll Star, his opening number, was one of six Oasis songs in his hour-long set – his third appearance at the festival, following one with Beady Eye in 2011 and another with Oasis in 2000 – the others being Morning Glory, D’You Know What I Mean?, Slide Away, Be Here Now and, to round things off and prompt the most enthusiastic singalong of the weekend, Wonderwall.
The rest of his 13-song set was made up of six from his forthcoming LP – Bold, For What It’s Worth, Greedy Soul, Universal Gleam, Wall of Glass and You Better Run – plus one Beady Eye tune, 2013 album track Soul Love.
Inevitably it was the Oasis sings that got the warmest welcome, but Gallagher’s solo stuff also went down well, proving that he remains as much a rock’n’roll star now as when he first made that declaration back in 1994 on Oasis’s debut album, Definitely Maybe.
Master showman though he might be, his straightforward approach, allowing his songs to speak for themselves, wasn’t a patch on what came next as alternative rock act Muse threw the kitchen sink at proceedings, along with Bonfire Night-like quantities of fireworks, Star Wars-scale deployment of lasers and Hello! wedding-type amounts of confetti.
Opening with Dig Down, a track from their forthcoming eighth album, the Devon trio had a crowd of dozens of thousands at Bramham Park in the palms of their hands for the next hour and a half or so.
This was their sixth appearance at the festival – coming after previous slots in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2011 – so frontman Matt Bellamy and his two sidekicks knew exactly how to go about wooing their audience, including shamelessly flagging up Rotherham-born bassist Chris Wolstenholme’s South Yorkshire roots and packing their 20-song set with hits from throughout their 23-year career including Time is Running Out, Stockholm Syndrome, Plug In Baby, Knights of Cydonia and Supermassive Black Hole.
Fellow headliners Kasabian and Eminem are no strangers to this event either, the former having played there before in 2004, 2005 and 2012 and the latter in 2001, at its old Temple Newsam home, and 2013.
The Leicestershire alternative rock band, a support act for Oasis during their 2009 farewell tour, eschewed the theatrics deployed by Muse the night before, instead opting for a no-frills airing of their stadium-sized blend of pub rock and indie pop, including four songs from their sixth and latest album, For Crying Out Loud, their fifth chart-topper in a row following its release in May.
Those new ones – Bless This Acid House, Comeback Kid, Ill Ray (The King) and You’re in Love With a Psycho – rubbed shoulders with old favourites such as Shoot the Runner and Empire, plus a cover of Nirvana’s All Apologies, to keep the crowd happy from the start of their 18-song set to its end.
Eminem, alias Marshall Bruce Mathers III, was every bit their equal as a crowd-pleaser, not only delivering hit after hit but also taking a pop at that softest of soft targets, US president Donald Trump, and also calling the proportions of his private parts into question in a curious echo of one of the odder themes of the 71-year-old’s triumphant presidential campaign last year.
Accompanied by Denaun Porter, the Missouri-born rapper didn’t put a foot wrong as he rattled his way through dozens of songs, retaining, at 44, every iota of the verbal dexterity that has seen his last six solo albums top the charts both here and in his native US.
His fourth album, 2002’s The Eminem Show, accounted for the biggest chunk of his 32-track set, with seven of its songs making an appearance, but its predecessor, 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP wasn’t far behind, with five, two more than its sequel, his latest long-player, 2013’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2, and he also played four covers, including Lil Wayne’s Drop the World and Drake’s Forever.