“Hello Clapham…” says a slightly bemused Noel Gallagher as he address the large crowd in front of him. “Mmm, that’s a phrase I never thought I’d say...”
Well it was always going to be an evening of firsts. Not only did this show on a hot, sunny day (4 July) in London represent the former Oasis leader's first chance to headline a UK festival under his own name, but following previous homes at the Olympic and Hyde Parks, in its tenth year the Calling Festival has come south and settled on Clapham Common.
Having staged the likes of The Who, The Killers and Bruce Spingsteen in the past, the year saw the event reborn as a near constant blast of music in its new, more bijou yet unique surroundings. Across two outdoor stages, one virtually starting as the other finished, Calling enjoyed sets from The Hives, Echo And The Bunnymen, Modest Mouse, Wolf Alice and Ryan Adams, before Gallagher’s chance to top a bill on home turf outside of Oasis arrived.
As he told Q earlier in the year, it meant something to have his name at the top of the bill, but just in case “The Chief” thought it was going to a walk in the park (or common), Ryan Adams was on hand during his own brilliantly stompy set to remind Noel of what the occasion meant to him and the rest of audience.
Not only did the singer-songwriter deliver an engaging blast, including early favourites To Be Young, Come Pick Me Up and Shake Down On 9th Street (though sadly not his Noel-approved Wonderwall cover), but having decorated his stage set like the ultimate teenager's bedroom with space invader arcade machines, giant amps and a tiger (!), he indulged in a bit of hero worship.
“This for me is like being in that film where the band’s open for Slayer, I'm nervous,” he told the crowd. “The ultimate songwriter who’s around now is coming next and I’m playing before. It’s weird!”
Still Noel can cope with a little praise now and again, and was unphased as he opened a set of solo songs and ‘connoisseur’ choices from the Oasis songbook, indeed it wasn't long before he was having a spot of fun with the crowd.
“This next song has a saxophone on it, don’t be afraid,” he advised them, before introducing Live Forever to loud cheers. “Live Forever with a saxophone? How pissed are you?!”
Instead Riverman echoed across the Common, as Gallagher and his band performed solo selections including Everybody’s On The Run, a Wurlitzer-driven version of The Death Of You And Me and If I Had A Gun, while Fade Away, Digsy’s Diner and Whatever from his previous employment were also aired.
The latter was even dedicated to a fan who had travelled from South Korea especially for Calling Festival, though Gallagher couldn’t help but wryly point out “we’re fucking going there on Friday!”
As the night came brought to a close with a sing-a-long heavy encore including The Masterplan, AKA... What A Life and Don’t Look Back In Anger, it was apparent that both Calling Festival and its ‘first time’ UK festival headliner had settled comfortably into their new homes.
For more visit Callingfestival.co.uk.