Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Gallagher senior nears supernova heights with mix of old and new
Tuesday 01 November 2011
Hopes that Oasis might follow The Stone Roses in contemplating a perhaps less demanded comeback tour any time soon appear in the process of being dashed by the success of Noel Gallagher's current solo project. While his estranged brother Liam's Beady Eye seem intent on letting the fading spirit of Oasis carry them rather than the material itself, the older Gallagher appears to have been stockpiling his best choruses for the last decade in case he might be asked to stand up on his own. Noel, unlike Liam, has no qualms about extensively revisiting his old band's catalogue on the live stage, but a respectable number of his new songs genuinely deserve their place alongside the best of that canon.
There's no question this show missed Liam's noisy unpredictability, although it also demonstrated Noel's best placing as a former voice of his generation making the transition to middle-aged part of the furniture on the British scene. Those Oasis songs were either of the bittersweet acoustic variety it was always Noel's job to write and sing ("Half the World Away", "Talk Tonight"), or stadium anthems which proved easily retooled to the surroundings. "Supersonic", "Don't Look Back in Anger" and "The Importance of Being Idle" were all met with the usual full-blooded singalongs, but it was interesting to note the crowd seemed relatively bored with the eternally overplayed "Wonderwall".
Amid the new songs, too, there was a sense of the make-do in the forgettable polemic of "Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks" or "AKA... Broken Arrow's" flimsy filler. Yet "The Good Rebel" transmitted swagger and melancholy in equal measure, the wearily titled ("I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine" was a folk anthem played with the tempo of glam rock and "AKA... What a Life" transcended even its pleasing recorded incarnation with a real funk built on drums like a train and a biting, insistent guitar line.
So not as good as Oasis's heyday then, but a modest career reinvention which took the best of what has gone before and reinvigorated it simply by flushing away the stagnancy which afflicted the group's later years. ("Stranded on) The Wrong Beach's" – "it's a long journey, baby / and where it's gonna take me / just depends on the weight of my load" lyric seemed crafted for Noel's current situation, although hopefully he doesn't feel the need to revisit old roads just yet.
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