Letter from Simon Kelner: Not even the flash mob can spoil Noel's magic


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The Independent Online

It all started, some time ago, with the advent of hand-held video cameras. I remember being at a children's birthday party, or some such event, and every bit of spontaneous action had to be re-staged for the camera.

I thought at the time that this marvelous piece of technology was going to have a corrosive effect on our lives: filming something that happened for later viewing would stand in the way of enjoying the moment as it was actually happening. There was also, of course, the possibility that this would accelerate the slide towards becoming a nation of voyeurs.

I had those same feelings the other night when I saw Noel Gallagher in concert at The Roundhouse in London. I shall come back to the specifics of the concert later, but what struck me most forcibly (and I speak as a man who, these days, wouldn't exactly be a regular at rock gigs) were the number of people holding their phones above their heads trying to capture videos of the event.

I heard myself saying: "Why don't you just go with the flow, listen to the music, and rejoice in the moment rather than worrying about whether your camera phone is working or not in order for you to post a few seconds on YouTube?" And that's before I started getting annoyed by my view being blocked by a hundred phones raised aloft.

Very little, however, could truly spoil my enjoyment of the night. These are heady days indeed for Mr Gallagher: his new album went straight to No1 in the charts, and his beloved Manchester City are in the same position in the Premiership. (In Dublin, on the opening night of his world tour, he took to the stage to the accompaniment of "Blue Moon", City's signature tune. It was, he said later, the first time he has been booed on to the stage.)

There's very little showmanship about Gallagher, but, boy, does he belt out a tune.

Most of the tracks from his latest album are instant anthems, so much so that even his most recent work was turned into a mass karaoke. And when he got round to "Wonderwall" and "Supersonic", two of the definitive songs of the Oasis era, it was hard to pick out Noel's own voice.

It was an interesting audience, too. Certainly not young, but not old either. Largely polite and, from the conversations I heard around me, well educated. In fact, the perfect profile for i readers.

No wonder, then, that I was accosted by a devoted reader of this paper, Neil Rowe, who gave up his place in the massive queue for the bar to tell me how much he enjoys i. Good on you, Neil.

I hope you didn't miss any of the concert on my behalf. Anyway, if you did, it's all there on YouTube.