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Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The Guardian Reveiws Noel Gallagher's Royal Albert Hall Gig
Oasis mainman Noel Gallagher has, in later life, evolved from bullish Britpop guv'nor into something of a mordant raconteur. His arse remains resolutely unliberated, however, and glued to a stool for the duration of Gallagher's first live outing since the dissolution of Oasis.
This performance could have gone two ways. Gallagher could have road-tested a few new songs, and held forth waspishly on a variety of topics. There might have been sly digs at his brother Liam, who has vowed to continue a rump Oasis without Noel. (Guitarist Gem Archer is supposedly involved, making his appearance alongside Noel tonight a talking point.)
Or he could have played a feelgood hits set from Oasis's imperial period and made fun of scousers. He opts for the latter, making for a very happy audience, but a predictable evening. Alone on acoustic guitar with just drummer Terry Kirkbride, they open with "(It's Good) to Be Free", the only indicator tonight to Gallagher's state of mind. Everyone else on stage is seated too – Gem, Oasis keyboard player Jay Darlington, Kirkbride, plus the Wired Strings, an all-female string section who previously played with Gallagher at his Teenage Cancer Trust gig in 2007.
The crowd, by contrast, is on its feet from moment one. Up near the gods is the Crouch End Festival Chorus. They needn't have bothered turning up, as their vocals are drowned out by the crowd. Gallagher confesses that tonight's set is largely the same as three years ago. "Play a new song?" he huffs wryly. "We don't do new songs for charity."
Noel's delivery of "Wonderwall" has mutated in recent years, becoming more nuanced. His maturing voice has become less hectoring too, even as his lyrics remain frozen in the imperative mood. Another small pleasure comes from the deep woody sound coaxed out of Archer's semi-acoustic guitar, and his pithy solos.
There is also fascination in how Gallagher's songs defy the laws of physics to become more than the sum of their meagre lyrical parts. "Digsy's Dinner" is, famously, about lasagne. The collected Wisdom of Gallagher meanwhile sheds the kind of light on the human condition on a par with media-coached sportsmen in post-match interviews. Britpop never had a worthy mission statement, of course. But is it right that, 15 years on, the Albert Hall is full of people bawling along to "Don't Look Back in Anger" as others do to "Land of Hope and Glory"?
via L4e / The Guardian / Kitty Empire
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