Looming ominously down upon the central stretch of the Reeperbahn, a 20ft tall Liam Gallagher has been bearing the words ‘coming soon’ since the start of the festival. With debut solo LP ‘As You Were’ due to land in mere weeks, it’s a sign that doesn’t seem to warrant much explanation, until a giant bus announcing his imminent arrival for a secret set starts making its way down the strip, that is.
Yep, in typically understated fashion, Our Kid’s popping into Hamburg and he’s not coming quietly. It means that Friday night’s plans are all but dropped for most of the Hamburg event’s punters, who pointlessly queue down the road to try and gain access to the very-much-at-capacity Docks venue that’s playing host to the star.
Weirdly, those that do manage to get inside are a reasonably quiet lot. Maybe it’s just that Liam’s a demi-god on UK turf and just, y’know, a human man in the rest of the world, but there’s something odd about watching a clutch of Oasis songs – because of course he plays a clutch of Oasis songs – sung back with reasonable decorum.
Kicking off with ‘Rock’n’Roll Star’ and an early ‘Slide Away’, tracks from his forthcoming LP are sandwiched between the classics, with newies ’Wall Of Glass’ and ‘I Get By’ slotting in with ease. Pulling the hood of his parka over his face and swaggering around the stage, Liam is as only Liam can be; a silhouette you can recognise a mile away that still brings a shiver of excitement wherever he goes. He ends on a sing-along ‘Wonderwall’ and you suspect the hours-long queues were likely worth it.
Elsewhere, there’s plenty of less high profile fun to be had among the festival’s various venues and pop-ups. Canada’s Mauno are a hugely endearing proposition, stitching together an afternoon set plagued by technical problems with the kind of dry humour that makes you almost wish for more. Musically, they’re a spikier bunch than on record, adding tricksy time signatures and agitated guitars reminiscent of Preoccupations’ former outfit Women to their lilting Grizzly Bear-esque tingles.
In the Imperial Theatre, Matt Maltese has made himself at home – bringing a giant, lightbulb-encrusted red heart with him that glows behind his piano-led swoons of romance and failure. He’s a charming raconteur, flitting between deadpan humour and heart-swelling grandeur with ease; recent single ‘Vacant In The 21st Century’, meanwhile, still remains an absolutely flawless example of just how good the young South Londoner can be.
Over at Molotow, Dream Wife kick off a stupidly busy line-up that also includes a glittering Black Honey and another secret set from Death From Above. Unsurprisingly, they have the venue heaving from the off and it’s a sweaty mass that greets the howling clarion call of ‘F.U.U’ and new track ‘Fire’.
Scandinavian Skott might be a gentler proposition to close out the night, especially considering the poor singer’s been guzzling throat sweets and lemsip all day, but she’s no less powerful. A bewitching presence in the vein of Lykke Li, her undulating electronics and glacier-sharp vocals cut through the stage smoke like a laser.
Photos: Louise Mason