Flying solo suits the older Gallagher brother. Patrick Murphy, and 10,000 others, are away with the birds
Three years ago, Noel Gallagher was playing Belfast with Oasis. Now he's performing in the 10,000 capacity Odyssey Arena as a solo artist. How times change.
Considering that his younger brother, Liam Gallagher’s band, Beady Eye, recently had to be content with the Ulster Hall for their first Irish gig, the older Gallagher brother is said to be surprised at playing arenas so soon after launching his High Flying Birds solo project.
However, as he struts on stage to a rapturous reception, the man once nicknamed ‘The Chief’ due to his omnipotent control over Oasis, is clearly in his element, oozing confidence that will always come across as arrogance to some.
He opens his set with an old Oasis B-side, ‘It’s Good To Be Free’, which is perhaps a subtle message that, despite claiming he misses his role in Oasis, Gallagher is happy to be fulfilling solo ambitions – there are no fruit fights in his dressing room these days.
Many tracks from the High Flying Birds album are aired, and each is generally well received by the Belfast crowd. First up is the echo-driven ‘Everybody’s On the Run’, sung with great conviction by Gallagher, and made even more atmospheric by the company of the Crouch End Festival Chorus.
‘If I Had a Gun’, a love song the melody of which is reminiscent of 'Wonderwall', is another strong track. Gallagher batters through the new material like he has been playing it for years. Singles ‘Dream On’ and ‘The Death of You and Me’ provide a more upbeat tempo. Both songs are augmented by a brilliant brass arrangement, a rarity in any Noel Gallagher-penned track.
In between songs, Gallagher addresses the crowd with updates from the Manchester City football match he is missing. He introduces the audience to his band, and entices the crowd to boo his guitarist because he is American. They bow to Gallagher’s wish and boos echo around the Odyssey.
The Oasis classics, which of course draw the biggest responses, are slipped in between the new songs. Softly sung, stripped-down versions of ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Talk Tonight’ inspire mass sing-a-longs. As if anyone could forget, tracks like these are the reason that Gallagher should always be compared with the greatest songwriters Britain has produced.
The encore sees one final wave of Oasis hits unleashed. A personal highlight comes in the shape of ‘Little By Little', a 2002 single that Gallagher has not been played live for a number of years. ‘The Importance of Being Idle’ follows, before ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ rounds off the night in spectacular fashion.
Gallagher surveys the audience as they sing the final chorus to a song that became an anthem for a generation, and declares the night 'a pleasure'.
It's been a memorable and emotional performance, and as effective as any Oasis show I've seen. With a new album as strong as High Flying Birds already in the locker, it looks as though Noel Gallagher could be flying solo for a long time to come.