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Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds At Beacon Theatre, Tuesday, July 5th, 2016, reviewed

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“Didn’t you have that thingymabop? How was it? Your firework display? You’re not allowed fireworks in New York, is that right? You can buy a fucking rocket launcher and an automatic machine gun, but you can’t buy a Roman Candle… that’s why we love America”. That’s Noel Gallagher discussing Independence Day last night at the Beacon Theatre. He is a funny guy, very funny, very smart. This part of Noel was a little hidden with Oasis, Liam was surly and aggressive, all snarl and spit, and Noel backed off into the shadows. But ever since Oasis swam with the fishes, Noel’s natural skills as a brutal put down artist, a comedic bullshit detector and a natural front man became apparent. His voice is very strong, not Liam but who is?, Noel can really deliver his songs powerfully, with authority and control. Knocking on 50, he is trim, healthy, better looking than in 1994.

As for his High Flying Birds? Obviously an anonymous force for good, who manage well the patented wall of guitar sound with even the keyboards only visible for a brief solo during “Digsy’s Diner” before merging back into the overall melodic roar that is Noel’s reason to exist.

So what’s not to like? I’ll tell ya, I haven’t found his songwriting all that since the turn of the century. Listening to him perform the heart of the matter, “Wonderwall” with a “this song paid for all of this”, the limits of his post Be Here Now career is absolutely apparent. When Oasis first arrived, with a barrage of superb singles and non-lp-b-sides and one, then, two, masterpieces of filtchered but in the best way possible, 60s and 70s melodies, everyone from the Beatles to the Carpenters and beyond, Oasis thrived because they filtered it through a working class yobbo heads down no nonsense Status Quo Man City Boys Own world of advanced pop rock. By which I mean, they made it their own.

Fast forward 20 years and Noel is doing the same thing with borderline lousy songs. Yeah, “The Mexican” is alright, and yeah “Riverman” is OK, “If I Had A Gun…” was a hit, and the world at large admired his deepening of the guitar hues of Oasis with strings and things. But really, the songs as a whole are about as good as late Oasis, none of which he has touched since he recorded em.

With terrific LCD screens but with around five feet between the band and the edge of the stage, as though they had no idea what to do with it and so ignored the extra room, Noel hit the stage for two hours of melody and guitars –no opening act. Starting with a crap song from the High Flying Birds album, and following it with three more of the same, before a fifth was added in, they sounded great. Like, they weren’t great songs but they sounded really nice, very loud but very penetrable. And once Noel had taught us who was boss, he became chatty but in a really good way. Noel spoke enough to keep us laughing, to keep us on our toes. And number six he gives the paying punters “Fade Away” –a somewhat depressing modulated classic. Two songs later and Noel begins to dig the songs out. Liam’s Beady Eye band did no Oasis covers, a misguided attempt at a fair hand, my assumption is Liam would’ve been better with old Oasis. After all, his voice as form is far more important than, say Noel’s guitar work. Noel took exactly one solo last night, and it was pretty good, succinct to the point of terseness, but no worse for that.

And, we’re off. The first seven songs had one Oasis song, the following nine songs had seven Oasis songs. So, here they come, the legend that is Noel come to life: “Champagne Supernova”, “Talk Tonight”, “Dyer wannabe A Spaceman” (really, if he wanted to go there, why not “Round Are Way”?), a terrific “Digsy’s Diner”, “Wonderwall” , the encore was two Oasis songs with a High Flyer in the middle.

For a sound so thick, the atmosphere was very light hearted. Whether telling an eleven year old, that no, the kid wasn’t the youngest fan, his four year old son was, “Sorry to piss on your chips” or warning “For those of you were at the Webster Hall gig before who are thinking ‘fuck, he’s playing the same exact set list’, I am,” Noel’s playful antagonism was fun and very much so. He warns a guy reaching the stage for a drumstick that’s fallen. “I will fucking die before you get that. It’s mine, I paid for it.” All in good humor, all somewhere between rock star over there, me overhere, and me and him in the same place.

Sure, the set was mired with songs that’d aren’t all there, and Noel will never be Liam, still, I don’t mean to piss on your chips, but I for one thoroughly enjoyed it.

Grade: B+

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