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Thursday, November 26, 2020

‘Allez Allez Allez’: How Liverpool balladeer Jamie Webster found his place in India

Just like any other Liverpool FC fan, Jamie Webster channelises the emotion of being part of a family into his words, and that's how he has gone global — to the pubs of New Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai.

Written by Debkalpa Banerjee | New Delhi | Updated: May 16, 2020 3:39:19 pm
Jamie Webster is an electrician by trade and performs late-night gigs in Liverpool. (Source: LFC)

With his messy hair, casual black cargo shorts, and an acoustic guitar by his side, he might be an indiscernible figure in the streets of Liverpool, but not in New Delhi. To thousands in the capital city of India, Jamie Webster is more than a musician — he has attained a cult status in the fan culture of Liverpool FC.

But how did this come to pass? How did a 25-year-old, who spent his time singing in pubs just two years back, turn into an icon of sorts? To trace the journey, one has to go back to the second leg of last-16 tie of UEFA Champions League between Liverpool and Porto in March 2018, when it got its first proper airing at Anfield.

Although ‘Allez, Allez, Allez’ was conceived in the Merseyside pubs, the chant and its creator alike gained traction after a video went viral in mid-February 2018. Since then, it has turned into a symptomatic hymn for fanatical elation — featuring in cities like Kyiv, Munich, Barcelona, and then of course, in Madrid where Liverpool lifted their sixth European Cup last May.

While a few other chants like the ones about Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk have had their own success in the terraces of Anfield, no other song has reached high decibels like ‘Allez, Allez, Allez’. Singing about how the club has “conquered all of Europe” to the tune of Italo disco duo Righeira’s ‘L’estate sta finendo‘, the chant has travelled across multiple countries and continents.

FROM PARIS DOWN TO DELHI

“Initially, I thought it would be quite big in Liverpool, in the city, but I never realised that it would have such a cultural impact in India. It’s definitely a shock, but a nice one to have,” said Webster talking to The Indian Express at the LFC World roadshow event, which was held on March 7.

Considering Liverpool has around twelve recognised supporter’s clubs, known as Official Liverpool Supporter’s Club (OLSC), it shouldn’t be coming as a shock. Since the turn of the century, and mostly since the mid-2010s, the club has seen a boom in fan following in cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, among others.

“‘Allez, Allez, Allez‘ is how you open any match as it brings fans together through the mentions of our success and domination. It is the song that creates the atmosphere of Anfield in any part of the world, even in the Quote Bar of Delhi,” said Rishabh Girdhar, an organiser of the LFC World event and a member of OLSC Delhi.

Liverpool fans at the BOSS Night held by Jamie Webster on March 7. (Express Photo)

An electrician by trade, Webster is a lifelong Liverpool FC fan who happened to pick up the murmurs at the Estádio do Dragão in Porto in 2018. From there, the story wrote itself — Webster breathed life into the song with his words and it soon became a phenomenon.

“I feel really privileged to come out here, to these places where I had never ever dreamt of coming to. Like Delhi… the culture is mad. It’s absolutely crazy, but it’s like a nice crazy,” added Webster.

READ | Emile Heskey, Jason McAteer on Liverpool, Klopp and the ‘holy grail’

‘WE ARE LOYAL SUPPORTERS’

Just like any other Scouser following his club home and away, Webster too shares the same emotion of being a part of the family. He believes that’s what he channelised while writing the song which has made his song go global — from Sybil Street in Liverpool to the roads and alleys and pubs of India, Jakarta, United States, Japan to name a few.

“It’s [‘Allez, Allez, Allez‘] not about a player in particular. It’s about supporting Liverpool, and how everyone shares that passion. It’s just one of those songs that stays with you,” said Webster.

“What it does is it brings people together regardless of geography which is exactly what music is supposed to do. If I wasn’t already singing and playing the guitar, I would be stood at the bar watching someone else play the guitar and sing about my club.”

Summarising how the song has created a ripple effect in the contemporary fanbase, Rishabh further added, “‘Allez Allez Allez‘ is also a memoir to what Jürgen Klopp has done to the club. It reminds us about our forefathers — Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley — and brings us back to the current era of dominance.”

Jamie Webster performing in front of hundreds of Liverpool FC supporters in New Delhi. (Source: LFC)

His following in India has grown to a point where he has been approached separately by the OLSC Tamil Nadu with the help of Spion Kop Singapura for a solo-gig before a match screening.

“Jamie Webster is somebody who has become like an icon for the fans. To have him perform in Chennai, as he did in the Fanzone party for hours that afternoon in Madrid is a dream. Nothing is confirmed yet, but the tentative date of the event is August 23,” said Sriram Pranatharthi Haran, the branch head of OLSC Tamil Nadu.

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

After offering fierce competition to the long-standing historic ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone‘ in the stands of Anfield and almost everywhere, and after ticking off things from his bucket list by singing duets with the likes of Alisson, Jamie Carragher, and even Jurgen Klopp, Webster now wants to fulfill his dream.

His dream is simple — to write his own songs and produce his own record albums in due course of time, and he has already taken steps in achieving that. Performing in front of the Delhi crowd, between the Liverpool FC chants, he sang his new single, ‘Weekend in Paradise‘.

When asked about whether there’s something new in store for the Anfield faithful, he replied, “Obviously, there’d be a big party in the city when Liverpool win the title, and I will have a part to play, but, I can’t talk too much about it right now.”

THE ONE THAT GOT VIRAL

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