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Review: Noel Gallagher @ iTunes Festival, London Roundhouse
There. Said it. It’s what everyone’s thinking anyway.
It’s the elephant in the round room of Camden’s Roundhouse. However for this mop haired - albeit thinning - middle-aged crowd it’s a word that shall not be spoken loudly for fear of disrespecting the demi-God figure of Noel Gallagher who has just shuffled out and into his new position at the centre of stage.
Wounds are still fresh and broken hearts are still healing after he dissolved his legendary band after one too many bust ups with bullish brother Liam. Noel is the salt of the earth songsmith who inspired a generation of boys to pick up guitars and ignore grunge riffs for the honest open chord.
With his trademark red Gibson guitar slung over his shoulder he looks as timeless as his back catalogue of hits sound. He hasn’t changed much since those heady days of Cool Britannia and the mid-90s Britpop boom.
He’s still as frank and outspoken as ever. Nor has his sound changed much either. Noel Gallagher has a musical blueprint. A plan he used during his Oasis days, and is still using with his High Flying Birds project. It’s a recipe that has proved successful, so why tamper with it.
The crowd tonight certainly wouldn’t want anything other than the sing-a-long choruses and bawdy Northern swagger implicit with everything that Gallagher Snr does. It’s a sound to make beer boys move around to, and even cuddle one another.
The crowd needn’t have worried about disrespecting Gallagher’s High Flying Birds with thoughts and memories of the ‘O” word as tonight’s set is seeded with vintage Oasis as well stand outs tracks from their eponymous and underrated 2011 album.
Opening with the classic Oasis b-side (It’s Good) To Be Free sets the Oasis undertones before the High Flying Birds take off with their own work.
Everybody’s On The Run and If I Had A Gun… are recognisable classics now in their own right and are as rapturously received as is an acoustic reworking of Oasis’ debut single Supersonic and Half The World Away.
Some bands refuse to recognise their past. Noel Gallagher made a successful career out of recognising (and stealing from) the past when writing Oasis’ cannon of work.
And he’s not ashamed to recognise his own past either. Why would he? They’re his songs. He wrote many of them in his Manchester bedsit years before Oasis first zipped up their Adidas tracksuits and the two brothers from Burnage traded blows. More importantly the crowd, Noel’s crowd, love them.
Returning for an encore, tonight finds Noel not only in fine singing voice, but his patter with the crowd is genius.
It’s ironic maybe, but away from Oasis he seems to have found his trademark swagger again. He’s a man who’s enjoying again what he’s been doing for so long; entertaining the everyman. And they’re definitely entertained tonight.
When he and his High Flying Birds are joined by a choir they rock the Roundhouse’s rafters with Whatever before closing with Don’t Look Back In Anger which might have caused the biggest sing-a-long since Maine Road in ’96, some might say.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds Roundhouse Set List:
(It's Good) To Be Free
Everybody's on the Run
If I Had a Gun...
The Good Rebel
The Death of You and Me
D'Yer Wanna Be a Spaceman?
(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine
AKA... What a Life!
Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks
AKA... Broken Arrow
Half the World Away
(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach
Let the Lord Shine a Light on Me
Little By Little
Don't Look Back in Anger