It was four years ago that Noel Gallagher last walked the halls of the Bournemouth International Centre, but back then he had his younger brother swaggering along in tow with the other three members of Oasis as they started touring their seventh and what was to become their last studio album. Yet little under one year later it had all imploded in spectacular fashion and one of the biggest acts in the country had fractured apart giving birth to two new bands that went on to become known as Beady Eye and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
Much has changed since then with both of the Gallagher brothers having bounced back with one album each and enjoying a decent amount of success off the back on them with solo tours and festival dates firmly tucked under their belts. Of course mud has been slung from both sides, Liam in his usual eloquent fashion calling Noel a ‘Shitbag’ and branding his band ‘High Flying Turds’ while Noel labelled Liam’s as a ‘Stratford’s finest Oasis tribute act’. But as the dust settles on this latest chapter of their sibling rivalry and we can take stock and it seems to be that Noel has adapted best to stepping out on his own as he has not just got the commercial and critical success but as I saw at the BIC he is has taken up the Oasis’s old mantle of one of the country’s best live acts very nicely indeed.
Opening for the High Flying Birds was former rival Graham Coxon of Blur fame who laid out cuts from his own solo project. Joined on stage by a total of five other guitarists at one point Coxon seemed to be trying to win the trophy for the loudest show along on the South Coast, but while at some points the sound quality may have led to the music coming across as just noise it was dam good noise that personified the darker side of Blur and was a fantastic start to the evening.
After a rather long soundcheck it was the time for the man who everyone had come to see the chief himself Noel Gallagher who strolled out leisurely onto the stage with his High Flying Birds and a twenty four piece choir and brass section to keep him company. Noel opened with a revamped version of Oasis B-side ‘It’s Good to be Free’ before kicking in with album opener ‘Everybody’s On the Run’. Bolstered by the voices behind and in front of him from the first few songs you could tell this performance was going to be killer, poised, professional, tight as tight can be and for lack of a better term, epic.
Noel led us through the first half of his solo album before moving onto unreleased track ‘Freaky Teeth’ and taking us back to the glory days as he performed ‘Supersonic’ acoustically to which the whole arena was belting out every word. The second half of the set finished off his solo material and was well laced with a mix of spruced up and reshaped Oasis favourites before leading onto the encore featuring an incredible performance of High Flying Bird’s B-Side ‘Let the Lord Shine a Light on Me’ and then Noel’s chosen big three, ‘Whatever’, ‘Little By Little’ and of course ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’.
This was one of those gigs that everything really did just click into place, with twenty songs crammed into an hour and a half as well as some of Noel Gallagher’s trademark banter to break it up there was never a dull moment in which I found myself twiddling my thumbs and looking at my phone. I mentioned earlier about professionalism and how poised it all seemed but I guess you could say that this to be expected from a twenty year veteran of the business like Noel. But aside from the people on stage what really pushed this gig into the upper echelons of my estimation was actually the people who had paid the slightly exorbitant ticket price to come to see him.
The crowd can either make or break a show no matter how good the band on stage is and this time they really did make it. Sometimes when you see a band like this that has splintered off from a previously successful act, those who come to see them just stand around being lacklustre and indignant as they find themselves bored by the new material as they just want to hear the big ones from the old days again. This exact same thing that happened when I saw Beady Eye last year as people spent more time chanting ‘Liam, Liam’ than they did actually paying attention to the music, so I felt slightly worried about the chances of a repeat of this for Noel. However it most certainly was not the case, for every song, High Flying Birds and Oasis alike, people were belting the words loving every minute and when a whole room is lost in a performance it’s pretty hard not to lose yourself in it to. I really don’t have a bad word to say, an excellent show all round from a band and a crowd who just radiated pure unquestionable class.