Jamie Webster: The Liverpool hometown superstar fuelled by football and politics

Jamie Webster performing on the main stage at the Trnsmt Festival at Glasgow Green in Glasgow, 2023
Jamie Webster is aiming for his first UK number one album next week

Liverpool singer Jamie Webster is a superstar in his home city, with a 40,000-capacity headline show coming up this summer. But his outspoken political and footballing allegiances have proved divisive elsewhere.

When Webster played the biggest gigs of his career so far - two sold-out shows for 24,000 people on Liverpool's waterfront last summer - one intrepid fan spotted an opportunity to sneak in.

The open-air concerts took place between two of the city's historic docks. "There was a canal running right down the middle," the singer explains.

"Someone actually swam in. He didn't have a ticket, and he swam. It came through on the radio as I was in the security office.

"I said to the security, 'Look, whoever it is, please make sure you don't kick them out.'

"But the poor sod spent all his time in the medical tent."

People will apparently go to great lengths to see Webster, who has become a Scouse hero in the past few years.

Jamie Webster performing in the fan park before the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022
Webster performed in fan parks before Liverpool's appearances in the 2019 and 2022 Champions League finals

The former electrician made his name when 50,000 Liverpool FC fans joined him in singing his hymn to the Reds, Allez Allez Allez, before the 2019 Champions League final.

Branching out from football and from his home city, Webster's anthemic and impassioned indie folk took his debut album We Get By to number six in the UK chart in 2020, and the follow-up Moments reached number three in 2022.

He is hoping his third album 10 For The People, out on Friday, will give him his first number one.

The 29-year-old fits catchy choruses into socially-conscious, politically-charged and observational songs about ordinary people, placing him somewhere between the Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner and Billy Bragg.

"This is why the album's called 10 For The People," Webster says. "It's an ode to my fans. It's an ode to the real people of the world because I haven't got here through industry backing, I haven't got here through radio playlists, I haven't got here through a major label. I haven't got here through any of that.

"It's all been done organically from grassroots, with a backdoor from a football terrace, which is unheard of. But you've got to ride your luck when you get it."

Jamie Webster performs onstage during the National Lottery's Big Eurovision Welcome event outside St George's Hall on May 07, 2023 in Liverpool
He was joined by a choir at a televised concert before last year's Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool

One song, Lovers in the Supermarket, was inspired by a photo his fiancee sent him of an elderly couple both holding a basket in Tesco.

"We've got a shared love of old couples," Webster says. "You know when you see a really old couple walking down the street? It's beautiful, isn't it? Especially when they're of a certain age."

Webster is clearly too much of a romantic to contemplate that the basket just might have been too heavy for one of the couple to hold on their own. Upon seeing the picture, he "almost melted" and immediately bashed out the song.

"There are parts in the vocal where my voice goes really thin. That's because I'm welling up. For me, that's what music is - it's imagery, it's escapism, and you can realise how beautiful life is just from listening to a bit of music.

"That's what my music is. I've always said that since the first album. I document the joys, the trials and tribulations and the escapes of working-class life."

In a review of one of his concerts last summer, the Liverpool Echo said Webster "commanded the adoring crowd who hung by his every word".

"Music, politics and life are intrinsically linked for Jamie," the newspaper said, "going seamlessly from the fast-paced Going Out to a powerful monologue before Davey Kane about his thoughts on the justice system.

"But despite these themes of poverty, mental health and a broken political system, the gig radiated joy and defiance."

Jamie Webster performs on stage at the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire on November 10, 2022 in London
Webster is gathering big followings around the country as well as in his home city

Politics runs through almost everything in Webster's music. Sometimes it's subtle, sometimes it's tub-thumping agitpop.

In the song Something To Eat, Webster manages to sing a catchy chorus about the "Brexit scam", while the video for his ostensibly anti-war song How Do You Sleep At Night? features snippets of Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Margaret Thatcher (plus Tony Blair for a bit of balance).

His recent single Voice of the Voiceless was praised in the House of Commons by John McDonnell, ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's former shadow chancellor.

"In an ideal world, I'd just be writing about all the beautiful things in life," Webster says. "There are some of them, and I do try. But sometimes you just get bogged down with what's going on around you.

"People say to me sometimes, 'Just stick to the music, leave the politics to the politicians'. And my answer to that is, well they're not doing the best job of it as far as I can see. And the second answer is, life is political. Whether you know it or not, politics are affecting how your life is lived."

Mural on a house in Liverpool
Lyrics from Webster's song This Place appear alongside local MMA fighters Paddy "the Baddy" Pimblett and "Meatball" Molly McCann on a mural

Being stridently anti-government and anti-establishment, he preaches to the choir in Liverpool, and has gained big followings elsewhere.

"What I'm saying is, just a bit of compassion for the fellow human being would be a start. That's all I'm trying to say in my music."

However, if you don't love Webster, his outspoken stance may well be alienating or even offensive.

There is the matter of the anti-Conservative chants that go up, and that he leads, at his live shows.

"Obviously, there's a chant that is synonymous with me and my gigs, 'Eff the Tories'," he says. "But I'd just like to say, that didn't come from me. That's been a stronghold in the north of England at gigs and at football matches, for a long time, right?

"And I just amplified it because I agree with it, you know, and that's just me and my personal political opinion, which I'm entitled to."

Political row

When a Labour MP endorsed the chant on social media after seeing him at a festival in Warrington, it led the chairman of the local Conservative Party to describe it as "hate speech".

"I do get criticism because of how maybe tribal I am, because of how blunt I am, because of how edgy I am. I do speak from the heart. And I find it hard to put a filter on things at times," Webster says.

"If you like me, great, I like you. If you don't like me, it's not really my problem, you know what I mean? I know I'm trying to do a good thing and I know I make people happy with my music.

"I do realise, and I've been told by management, my mum and my fiancee, that this 'Eff the Tories' thing is going to become a problem," he admits.

"But to me, rule number one of showbusiness is give the people what they want."

Jamie Webster singer from Liverpool during half time of the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Liverpool and Norwich City at Anfield on January 28, 2024
Webster launched his new album at Anfield last weekend

The political and footballing connections will clearly prove a barrier to Ed Sheeran-esque stardom, but they have fed into his status in Liverpool.

Webster became only the second local artist to headline the city's arena, after Sir Paul McCartney. That show, in 2022, was a sell-out and he had to cut his set short because of crowd congestion.

He is now planning his biggest show yet, in the 40,000-capacity Sefton Park in July.

Last year's two outdoor shows set a high bar, even if they were both different experiences - the first was a beautiful summer's night, the second a torrential storm.

"The stage was soaking wet, I was soaking wet."

The bloke who swam in, obviously, was also soaking wet.

"The crowd, God bless them, absolutely drenched," Webster continues. "And what a night we had. It was just a party, a proper Scouse party.

"We could have had a tidal wave coming in off the Mersey and we would have still been trying to fight our way through it. It was defiance and euphoria and adrenaline just balled up into this big massive gig.

"I felt like the city was mine. No, in fact I felt like the city was ours, you know what I mean? More so, I felt like the world was ours at that point."

The world remains unconquered, but his home town has been.