Recently, inside a venue that is without a bad seat, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, supporting their Stranded On The Earth World Tour, made their first visit to Columbus since playing at 2016s PromoWest Fest — this time to a sold-out crowd at Express Live! Indoor Music Hall.
“Every so often a band comes and changes the landscape.”
— Ray Davies on Oasis
What if your favorite member of your favorite band that defined a generation, has written more anthems in the last two decades than anyone else and whose songwriting was a key element of the band’s success quit that band, going solo a year later?
Would you take sides?
In 2009, Noel Gallagher departed from the highly successful, legendary Brit band Oasis after a “violent row” with his brother Liam, the band’s lead singer — walking away from stardom and risking everything. Fans were devastated when they heard the news. Gallagher is the singer-songwriter described above — a favorite of countless Oasis fans. He has been described as a genius, talented, one of the most arrogant British musicians around, and one who admittedly ripped-off the Beatles.
Gallagher (lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar) has assembled an incredibly talented back-up band for his third post-Oasis release, Who Built the Moon? (2017) — a gutsy departure from the 2010 self-titled debut album and 2015s Chasing Yesterday.
The band includes Mike Rowe (keyboards), Russell Prichard (bass and backing vocals), Gem Archer (lead and rhythm guitar), Chris Sharrock (drums), Jessica Greenfield (backing vocals and additional keyboards), YSÉE (backing vocals), and Charlotte Marionneau (tin whistle, scissors, spoken French, tambourine, and backing vocals). You read that right — Marionneau plays the scissors. And she plays them like a boss.
As with most performances, one expects to see a supporting act before the headliner. The Oasis songsmith had none of that and his fans didn’t care as they were surprised and ecstatic to see Gallagher and company walk onto the Newport Music Hall stage earlier than expected. They powered through their one hour and 45-minute performance which included a 17-song main set and a four song encore — delivering songs from every album, including five Oasis tracks — which by the way — is one of the fans’ many perks of Gallagher’s exodus from Oasis.
The show opened with an incredibly loud performance of “Fort Knox” — the second single and opening track on Who Built the Moon? This psychedelic song emphasizes psychedelic guitar and synths and has been criticized for being too long (3:58 seconds) as well as too boring. Perhaps most critics haven’t noticed how effective this trippy tune is as a vehicle for revving up an anxious crowd.
The song segued into “Holy Mountain,” a distorted glam-rock stomping tune that features hauntingly beautiful vocals performed by guest vocalist YSEE and two French bandmates, Greenfield and Marrionnea, along with a horn line arrangement that pays tribute to rock’s past while sounding fresh and fashionable.
Who Built the Moon? is certainly a more colorful album of the three — a bright record with blissed-out lyrics about life-changing love. In the song “It’s a Beautiful World,” Gallagher sings “It’s a beautiful dream / It’s a beautiful Night / It’s a beautiful world / when we dance in the light” reflecting the positive vibe that resonates throughout the album. Charlotte Courbe’s spoken word French within this song is an astounding piece of writing that contrasts the song and music so magically.
There were no uncomfortable moments. Gallagher played a healthy amount of songs from each album and paused a few times to interact with the audience — and in classic Noel Gallagher fashion, dropping a few f-bombs — setting off roars from the audience before taking center stage again.
Fans were more than happy to hear “The Importance of Being Idle,” “Little by Little,” “Half The World Away,” “Wonderwall” — all Oasis songs. Just when you thought it was all said and done, Noel Gallagher and His High Flying Birds returned to the stage for the encore, captivating their audience with “Dead in the Water,” “Go Let it Out," “Don’t Look Back in Anger” (which came to be an “anthem of defiance” following the 2017 Manchester terror attack) and “All You Need is Love.”
Rumor has it that there are Oasis fans who took sides and there are Oasis fans who realized that when your favorite member of your favorite band who just happens to be the incredible songwriter for the band that he left, is a win-win situation. Those fans get the best of both worlds — New Oasis albums and Noel Gallagher singing Oasis songs — and writing and producing new albums with his ever changing, ever evolving High Flying Birds.
Gallagher seems more comfortable in his own skin than ever. He delivered an animated and engaging performance, proving that he has gained control of his destiny. Everything he has done since Oasis has come from his own pocket – tour, wages, album. He’s still risking everything and having a blast doing it.
What’s next? Dublin Ireland’s radio Nova reported that Gallagher has at least two albums worth of music which could be released in the same year.
Bring it on!
Edited and posted by Breck Hapner
Photography by Robert Berry
About Jennifer Broderick
Jennifer Broderick photographs, and writes reviews and articles for NID Magazine.