Knebworth 22 director on Liam Gallagher’s ‘sensitive’ side and Oasis song ban

Photo of author

By Creative Media News

Liam Gallagher: Knebworth 22 made headlines last month after Noel Gallagher allegedly “blocked” the documentary from using Oasis songs, but director Toby L says it was “relieving” to omit those massive hits and focus on the star’s more “delicate” side.

“Who returns to the site of one of their biggest ever performances – essentially during the height of their former band’s career – and replicates it on their terms as a solo artist nearly a quarter-century later?

Only Liam Gallagher would have the audacity and confidence to do so.

Toby L’s new film Liam Gallagher: Knebworth 22 documents the 50-year-old rock star’s return to the site of his former glory, which was inspired by the rock star’s swagger.

Knebworth 22 director on liam gallagher's 'sensitive' side and oasis song ban
Knebworth 22 director on liam gallagher's 'sensitive' side and oasis song ban

Toby is accustomed to working with celebrities, having previously produced documentaries about Rihanna, Olivia Rodrigo, and Bastille, and he is unfazed by inflated egos.

“There is the concept of “don’t meet your heroes.” I would reply, “No, meet your heroes and attempt to create a documentary with them.”

The filmmaking process was fraught with difficulties, making headlines last month when Liam referred to his brother Noel as an “angry squirt” for allegedly refusing to allow the film to use any Oasis songs.

The director says he felt “relieved” when the Oasis hits were taken off the table, and instead of “looking back” will reveal the more “delicate” side of a star better known for his confrontational demeanor, hard-partying ways, and outspoken views.

Knebworth 22 filmmaker 1
Knebworth 22 director on liam gallagher's 'sensitive' side and oasis song ban

Some may argue that it was precisely these qualities that compelled Liam to return to the site of his former glory in the first place and then succeed.

In August 1996, Oasis performed two nights at the Knebworth Festival, with over a quarter of a million fans attending the sold-out performances.

John Major was prime minister, the Spice Girls’ debut single Wannabe was about to reach number one in the United Kingdom, and Germany would soon defeat England on penalties and go on to win Euro 1996.


In June 2022, following the release of his third solo album, C’mon You Know, Liam performed for 170,000 fans over two nights at the Hertfordshire mansion, which was again completely sold out.

Liam described his upcoming performance in 2022 as “beyond biblical” and added, “Let’s do it again in 26 years.”

And his fans were enthusiastic, as one character says in the film: “It’s similar to fate, like traveling to Mecca. It is a pilgrimage, and we have no choice; we must participate. We will be there wearing our parkas and ridiculous haircuts. We will go for it, and we will be prepared.”

Liam, speaking in the documentary, states: “I didn’t think we’d ever return to Knebworth, and I didn’t think we’d ever play arenas. We may have considered performing in theatres. At some time, I would have stated, “This is not good enough.” I’m uncertain as to what I would have done. I would have probably smacked it on the head and fled. I don’t know, guy. When you’ve been huge, don’t you kind of want to stay large? “

At the beginning of the film, there is a brief moment of doubt as to whether Liam’s voice will carry over the 250-acre plot.

As one might expect from a man whose Twitter bio contains the adjectives “Godlike”, “Celestial”, and “Majestic”, Liam does not have performance anxiety, stating before the shows: “Before anyone asks, yes, I am anxious. No, not even a little bit. I simply want to start listening to music, man “.

The sold-out performances were a resounding success, which must be attributed to the captivating performer at the center of the production.

The untamed man of rock

So, what can we anticipate to learn about the younger Oasis sibling in this latest documentary about his life and career?

The director anticipates some surprises: “He’s the wild animal Liam, the rock and roll Liam, and the foul-mouthed Liam, but I think we see another side of his personality here.

I would hesitate to describe her as softer, as that might be a bit too mild, but she has a deft wit and an articulate perspective on the world.

A short time later, Toby adds, “I think we see all of the razor-sharp rock and roll edges you desire, as well as a more philosophical side from him.”

He describes Liam as “constantly entertaining” and admits that during filming, “I had to bend my head back to laugh into the ether so the boom mic wouldn’t pick up my laughter.”

Continuing, he says, “We all know he’s funny, but being in the same room or field with him while he makes some of those remarks have been the highlight of my work thus far.”

The biggest issue in the room

The film catches up with Liam a week before the Knebworth concert during the Platinum Jubilee weekend, returning him to the site of his former glory and observing him prepare, but without his brother Noel.

And of course, neither Liam nor the director can ignore the fact that Noel is not a part of the Knebworth remake.

Toby explains, “The elephant in the room is brought up immediately in the first five minutes of the film, and you see how Liam handles it in a really graceful, non-defamatory, and completely honest manner.”

In the opening scenes of the documentary, as he descends from the skies like a god – albeit in a helicopter rather than on a beam of light – Liam states, “I would have never thought of doing it because it’s f huge and all that. But the fans want it, they wanted it with Oasis, [Noel] doesn’t want to do it, so, they’ll have to do it with me, and I’ll f*

Of course, there was also drama surrounding the film’s music rights.

I felt ‘relieved’

Liam referred to Noel as “an angry squirt” and a “terrible little man” last month, claiming that he “blocked” the documentary from using Oasis songs.

Half of Liam’s Knebworth 22 set comprised Oasis songs.

He explains: “While we were building such personal stories around Liam, I struggled to find a way to incorporate the Oasis music in a way that felt contextually sound and also because there was another Oasis Knebworth documentary only a year prior [Oasis: Knebworth 1996, directed by Jake Scott in 2021]…

“It’s a bold statement, but I haven’t missed those massive, incredible songs. I was relieved because I feared that if we had looked back too much, the tale wouldn’t have been as contemporary as it needed to be to differentiate itself from the previous documentary.”

While not repeating the themes explored in Liam Gallagher: As It Was, Toby says his documentary “highlights in a new, up-to-date way that transition point between what do you do after peaking in the biggest band of the time and then attempting to find your solo voice and maturing in the public eye.”

Taking Liam from his wilderness years following Oasis’ 2009 split, the filmmaker described the star as “he got fit and he started looking after himself and treating himself as an athlete.”

In the documentary on his heyday in the nineties, Liam reflects: “The music was good, there were a lot of amazing bands in the nineties, but there were also some terrible ones.”

Regarding the attire of the time, Liam comments, “I don’t think it was spectacular, but I believe it complemented the music.”

Back in the nineties

The director, who was 37 at the end of the Britpop era, offers a more in-depth appraisal of a period that characterized an age for those now in their late 30s and early 40s when Margaret Thatcher was gone, Tony Blair’s Britain was on the horizon, and hope was in the air.

“It is difficult to recall a time in recent history when music was so prominent in cultural and political discourse. This mid-nineties era, which is also discussed in the film, as well as the power of music and how it intertwines with the social and economic context of the moment in which music occurs. Everyone had an opinion about Oasis, who were brilliantly inescapable.”

Continuing, he refers to the band as “the underdogs.” “They were not born into privilege. They did not bring industrial relationships with them. They simply had incredible music and an incredible stage presence.

To this day, I believe that is an inspiring narrative, and anyone who wishes to do something great with their lives should remember that everything is possible if they put in the time and effort.

Why then is Liam’s return to Knebworth such a huge deal?

Toby responds that it is something the world desperately needs, more than we could have dreamed.

The film highlights the power of live music against hardship. “We’ve all needed it. You know, the last few years have been so difficult in the globe, and the idea of a large concert where we all come together and rejoice as one entity is what the film explores.”

Without a doubt, the supporters appear to appreciate this. And in this documentary, they are shown prominently, rather than as an afterthought.

Regarding the fans

Toby explains, “From the very beginning, we described to [Liam] how we wanted the video to be. We wanted it to represent his experience returning to Knebworth for the first time in 26 years, but we also wanted to show some of the 170,000 fans that attended the two-day concert.”

Only eight of the thousands of video submissions to be included in the film made the final edit.

Seven-year-old Audrina from Derby, who is currently in remission from neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that primarily affects infants and young children, says of her hero, “I think he’s cool, he’s always kept true to himself, and he’s never cared what other people think of him.”

And superfan Simon Heptinstall, 42, from Halifax, who has every Oasis CD and vinyl record, as well as every album Liam has recorded as a solo artist, and whose backyard shed bar is named Champagne Supernobar. According to him, “Oasis and Liam represent a way of life; it’s an attitude, it’s who you are as a person.”

In addition, famous fan and Kasabian frontman Serge Pizzorno appears in the documentary, describing Liam as “the embodiment of rock and roll” and stating that “rock and roll never dies.”

Liam was a driving force in placing his fans at the center of the film, according to the director: “He was just totally in, and he was so excited about the idea that we would be focusing on his audience as much as him in this film… More than anything else in the industry, the people are all he cares about.”

When asked in the documentary where he would be located in the crowd if he were a fan, Liam’s characteristically forthright response was, “Oh, I’d be in the f* bar getting w*.”

So, what will Liam conclude?

But while a legion of followers will be lining up to see their hero on the big screen when the documentary hits theatres, Liam has not yet seen the film. Toby explains, “he has reasons for wanting to view it at the optimal time.”

Although rock musicians are famously cautious of their public image, it appears that Liam has little interest in micromanaging his documentary.

He stops, “I’m excited for when he does view it…”

Will Oasis reunite in the future?

Regarding whether or not Oasis will reunite, the filmmaker is stoic: “[Liam’s] made his case quite clear, which is to say he’s open-minded. And I believe it’s Noel who rightly is like, ‘Hey, we’ve got a beautiful legacy. Who knows what will happen?'”

It’s the question every Oasis fan wants to be answered, and the Gallagher brothers have proven proficient at deflecting it in every interview since the band’s breakup.

Things came to a head for the band 18 years ago, just minutes before a Paris headlining performance. There were rumors of a guitar-related physical altercation.

Liam stated earlier this year that the band “should never have split up” and that he would “love” for Oasis to reunite.

And only last month, Noel stated in an interview that there was “no purpose” in an Oasis reunion because the band sells “just as many records” as when they were together.

“If we got back together, it would be a circus and there’s no point. Just leave it as it is. I’m happy, [Liam’s] doing his thing, he’s f***ing selling out Knebworth, it’s like, ‘Mate, good luck to you,” Noel said in the same interview, alluding to the documentary’s central theme.

The jury is still out, at least for the time being.

Toby says, “I’ve learned that life is a strange thing, and sometimes the most improbable things occur… If they did decide to do it one day, I can’t even fathom how massive the event would be.”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to content