There’s a sense of occasion anytime that Noel Gallagher performs, and his High Flying Birds didn’t disappoint on Wednesday in Leeds.
Coinciding with the week of the 20th anniversary of those iconic Maine Road gigs, Noel Gallagher’s band are the closest Oasis fans can get to the real thing today – at least until the inevitable reformation.
It’s no surprise that Oasis anthems such as ‘Champagne Supernova’ and ‘Wonderwall’ earn the most raucous of reactions, and plenty of those in attendance probably paid their admission solely for Noel’s performances of the hits.
But with a growing catalogue of indie classics and golden guitar hits, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds deserve to be on the major stage in their own right.
And they’ve vastly outperformed Liam’s Beady Eye in the battle of the post-Oasis bands, even though Mike, Jeremy, Tim and Russell are touring musicians rather than Noel’s fully-fledged equals within the project.
The evening opens at the First Direct Arena with a support slot from Super Furry Animals, the psychedelic rock band loved by their fans and barely understood by anyone else.
They do their usual schtick competently, although it would have been nice to see a fresh-faced indie rock band getting the platform to shine.
Then again, Noel is famous for his outspoken criticism of the bands of today – as well as for being an opinionated voice on any and all matters put to him in the music press.
It’s surprising, then, that he barely utters a sentence at all during his sets with the Birds – keeping his crossover chat between songs to brief dedications and the occasional remark – deciding to let the music do the talking instead.
First up for the evening is ‘Everybody’s On the Run’, with ‘In the Heat of the Moment’ – the first single from last album Chasing Yesterday – provided an early run-out too.
A few songs from both High Flying Birds albums feature on the night, including ‘Ballad of the Mighty I’, which in a live setting is the one song that stands out above all others as an indisputable Noel Gallagher classic.
Around half of the songs performed are Oasis covers, however – ten in total – from across their fifteen years in the spotlight.
‘Fade Away’ is the first, before a mass sing-along to ‘Champagne Supernova’ and a second half of the set dedicated almost entirely to Oasis classics arrives.
The four song encore features two tracks from High Flying Birds’ first album, including ‘(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine’, an album track that most may not know but that still goes down well in the cavernous surroundings of the arena.
The other two choices – ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ – need no introduction, nor explanation of the obviously huge response they receiv from a audience that knows every word.
And they love it, completing a crowd-pleasing performance that suggests Noel Gallagher can continue to play arenas for many years to come, Oasis or no Oasis.
But should Oasis reform – as they surely will one day – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds should be afforded more than a footnote in indie history themselves.
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All images by Katy Blackwood