Review: Noel Gallagher @ The Metro Radio Arena
By Steven Wood on March 7, 2012 in Music
As somewhat of a stalwart of the Oasis live scene, despite my deceivingly tender 25 years, I approached the showing of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds with a degree of hesitation.
Basically, Oasis were utter dog shite for the last quarter of their existence, especially on the live circuit. However this is a new era in the long running saga of the brothers Gallagher, with critical acclaim bestowed upon Noel’s solo debut.
Whether or not he was arsed about his Brit Awards nomination and performance just a night before this particular sold out show is debatable. Still, proof if needed, that he is still at the forefront of British music for many.
But let’s be frank here, for me the Metro Radio Arena isn’t exactly full of soul. Many an icon has succumbed to the acoustics. The support for the evening, The Smoking Barrels, put on a brave show – the Northumberland 3-piece not overawed at the gathering throng building before them.
As he takes the stage, Noel Gallagher’s solo debut album has been available for 2 weeks. Time enough, it would seem, for the crowd to learn every word of his new material. To be fair it’s just as well, as nine of this evening’s 20 tracks are extracted from the record. (It’s Good) To Be Free is a welcome opener for those of us craving an Oasis fix.
Perfect examples of Noel’s unbelievable knack of combing melody and simple musicianship.
And after the Velvet Underground inspired Mucky Fingers, he begins the solo onslaught. Album opener Everybody’s on the run is majestic, aided by a (at a guess here mind) 20 strong backing choir.
With the sparkle of his new band (Zutons bassist Russell Pritchard is no stranger to the arena malarkey), the likes of (I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine and pop grower If I Had A Gun are perfect examples of Noel’s unbelievable knack of combing melody and simple musicianship, while the melancholic The Death Of You And Me has become, for me, one of the best songs he’s ever written.
Entering a period of songs from the new album, Dream On stands out as something more than an Oasis B-side. The masterful Talk Tonight, I’m sorry to say, is not meant for a full band. Save that for those knobheads on the cruise ships. Supersonic, however, with only Noel and an acoustic for company, is simply life-affirming.
A somewhat surprising Little by Little opens a powerful encore and then time for the strains of Don’t Look Back in Anger, with arms aloft. There are many out there who will deny me these moments, with a gigantic chip on their shoulder when it comes to Oasis (a discussion better saved for another day I reckon).
Tonight was not Oasis, it was Noel Gallagher. But there was a spirit resurrected here, which is surely evidence of the power that music can bring to us all.
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