Free from the shackles of his little brother, Noel and his High Flying Birds delivered a flawless show at the Hammersmith Apollo that had me lusting for more...
To huge adulation the songwriter for a generation walks on stage without fanfare, song in pocket. That he chooses Oasis b-side ‘It’s Good to be Free’ to open with is no accident. As the sibling rivalry soap opera is archived to rock ‘n’ roll history Noel Gallagher lays his cards out the stage and leaves his public in no doubt. Life’s just easier without his little brother around throwing oranges at his head.
As the band burst into ‘Mucky Fingers’ from the 2005 Oasis album ‘Don’t Believe The Truth’ it strikes you that there are songs written post Morning Glory that can now shine having been once been lost in hysteria or snubbed because they weren’t ‘Wonderwall’. The classic itself is thrown in mid set and immediately followed by a rare opportunity to hear Noel’s take on ‘Supersonic’.
That mass singing accompanies each of the seven Oasis songs gifted tonight could have gone without writing. (‘Talk Tonight’, ‘Half the World Away’, ‘Dont look back in Anger’ and ‘The Importance of being Idle’ all appear). Whilst the vast quality of such a back catalogue means Noel can shuffle the contribution of his past nightly without becoming predictable or diluting the output, what’s really interesting tonight is exactly what should be. The new sounds. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
The people approve.
If Liam has taken the Oasis fan who throws a pint over your head as it all kicks off then I’m more than happy to follow Noel
You might have assumed that many in attendance tonight were only here for ‘Don’t look back in Anger’. They hadn’t even bothered to look into the new album and any new song simply presented the perfect slot to find room at the bar to drink and wish it was Oasis. If a number one album didn’t dispel such a notion then the first ‘High Flying Birds’ song of the night certainly did. Album opener ‘Everybody’s on the Run’ leaps out from the record and the hook “hang in there love, you gotta hold on” is sung fists clenched by all before settling down in your head for the next week. ‘Dream On’ and the exquisite ’If I had a Gun’ are welcomed like new friends you instantly know you’ll get on with. Noel’s taken every trick he’s learnt or stole over the years and used the clarity of going solo to bring the focus back to the basis of writing f**kin good songs with choruses to fill Wembley Stadium all over again with 70,000 lighters.
“I hope I didn’t speak too soon, my eyes have always followed you around the room,
‘Cos you’re the only God that I will ever need, I’m holding on and waiting for the moment to find me.”
The new singles are already part of the family; ‘The Death of You and Me’ and ‘AKA.. What a Life’ are contrasting triumphs as the former nods to the past with lyrics that flow effortlessly Oasis, whist the driving beat of the latter point towards the future and hint at what we might be able to expect from Noel’s summer project with Amorphous Androgynous.
As Gallagher switches between guitars like a shit pop-star goes through costume changes the mind does occasionally drifts towards brother Liam and what might have been had his voice been sung the new songs, particularly ’(Stranded on) The Wrong Beach’. You consider the gig you might have been at had his attitude been starring out at you, the last great frontman of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
As Noel gets older so does his fan base. If Liam has taken the Oasis fan who throws a pint over your head as it all kicks off then I’m more than happy to follow Noel. Liam took Andy Bell and Gem from the divorce settlement, but Noel got the songs and signs off with three of them, bringing things to an end with another that is better than you remember and which also hints at Noel’s thoughts on the past.
Oasis was the glorious yesterday. “Little by Little” they gave you everything you ever dreamed of. But that was then and they’ve nothing else to offer apart from the songs – and Noel’s got them. From the past and for the future.
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