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Friday, November 18, 2011
And The Other Shoe Drops...Noel Gallagher at The Beacon Theater, NYC
Once upon a time in the magical decade of the 1990s, Liam and his elder brother Noel, a pair of lads from Manchester, had a band called Oasis. Oasis turned out to be rather popular with kids on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and all around the world for that matter. The lads from Manchester sold millions of records and played gigs to packed houses in every part of the world. Everybody lived happily ever after. Except they didn’t. See, there was a dark side to the Oasis fairytale, a dark side that would eventually lead to the breakup of the band. Liam and Noel could not get along. There were constant quarrels, and after a well publicized backstage fight in the Fall of 2009, Noel stormed out of the band. Oasis was done.
To be honest, I’m still not 100% convinced that the Oasis split isn’t anything more than some brilliantly evil marketing strategy. Especially with all this talk of a 20th Anniversary (What’s The Story?) Morning Glory reunion tour in the air, there’s a part of me that can’t help thinking that this all some elaborate theatrical performance. Maybe I’m just being cynical. Nah, couldn’t be that.
In any case, both brothers decided to continue. Liam and the other members of Oasis formed a new band called Beady Eye, released an album and went on tour. It wasn’t half bad. I still think the Beady Eye record ranks up there with any of the later period Oasis records. It’s a raucous good time. Noel took a bit of a break and then began work on not one but two solo albums, the first of which dropped in the UK last month and in the states a little over a week ago. Noel then went on tour in support of the record.
As I mentioned above, I like the Beady Eye record. I also like the Noel Gallagher record. This is music, not Twilight, so I don’t think there’s any need for Team Liam and Team Noel bullshit. And though I can’t help thinking that Beady Eye wound up with the style of Oasis and Noel walked away with the substance, I still think I would have preferred one album from both camps with the six best Beady Eye songs and the six best Noel Gallagher songs. That would’ve been a hell of a record. Oh well. The 2015 Oasis reunion tour isn’t all that far off. Having said that, I have to admit that it’s difficult to review either of these records in isolation. The temptation to compare the two is overwhelming. And I’ve never been all that good at resisting temptation.
One thing that strikes me about Noel’s High Flying Birds’ record, however, is how much it doesn’t sound like Oasis. This is a bit surprising considering how much of the Oasis catalog was penned by Noel (see all the good Oasis songs), and that some of the songs on the record began life as songs intended for past Oasis records. The Beady Eye record, on the other hand, sounded like Oasis, a large part of which is certainly due to the presence of Liam’s voice, easily the most readily identifiable element in the Oasis mix. While Noel’s voice is not nearly as distinctive as Liam’s, the guy can still belt out a melody, and his songwriting chops are top notch. Some of the material may sound a little more somber and introspective than we’ve grown accustomed to hearing from the Oasis lads, but the majority of the album is still squarely grounded in the anthemic arena rock that propelled Oasis into the stratosphere. In any case, if there’s a place for a songwriter to get in touch with his self-indulgent side, a solo record is the place to do it. I still think I like the Beady Eye record better, though. There’s a little more rock in Beady Eye’s rock n’ roll than is found in Noel’s solo effort. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to seeing and hearing how Noel would pull these songs off in a live setting.
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