On the heels of his sophomore solo album, Chasing Yesterday, Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds returned to Los Angeles recently to play a sold out night at the newly restored Orpheum Theater in downtown LA. The venue itself was the perfect setting for an evening of new age dad rock, timeless songwriting, witty banter, and of course, in typical Gallagher fashion, not giving a fuck.
Rarely, if ever. will you go to a show (sold out or not) without any opening or support act. So leave it to the classic Scrooge of Noel Gallagher to be the one to not even bother with adding another act to the bill. But why should he, his fans will move heaven and earth for just the rare chance to see him. Critics alike can’t resist the opportunity to either admire ‘the talented’ Oasis brother Noel Gallagher, or more traditionally, find a reason to water him down to ‘has been’ status or a derivative melodic thief. Everybody will always want a glimpse at the bluntly worded Brit behind one of the self proclaimed biggest bands in the world. The good news, is that night it felt as if the wake of Oasis had finally subsided and fans were in attendance to see Noel Gallagher, the songwriter, deliver a collection of his favorite songs.
The main set consisted heavily of tracks off Noel’s self-titled debut and freshly released Chasing Yesterday LP. There’s little surprises to what Noel Gallagher does with his live show. While its quite excellent, there’s no frills. Sonically, it’s very reminiscent of ‘Don’t Believe The Truth’ era Oasis onward, his band is a 5 piece of guitars, keys, bass, drums, along with the occasional appearance of a small horn section. That’s about it, Noel doesn’t seem to care much about lights or visuals, or flashy moves on stage, he’s there to share songs. In good pitch and strong voice the seasoned rock star sang his way through solo highlights such as “Everybody’s On the Run”, “Lock All The Doors”, “If I Had Gun”, “Face Of God”, “The Death Of You And Me”. Hearing Noel Gallagher perform solo, you can get a great understanding of where he truly comes from musically. There’s always been an interesting combination of traditional Folk and Punk Rock roots in his instincts and delivery. Much of his new album ‘Chasing Yesterday’ nods toward 70s and 80s inspired Classic Rock like Tom Petty, The Band, Neil Young, and more. While those influences were always there, they sometimes seemed a bit shadowed by his indulgence in Pink Floyd, The Beatles and Stones, The Smiths, Stone Roses, all the usual Brit Classics to which Noel has endured critics’ scrutiny. Chasing Yesterday is surely Noel’s most adventurous genre pushing release to date. The album finds itself peering beyond the vary boundaries that Noel himself has set throughout his career, with arrangements, vocal melodies, and solo sections that you can tell had always been part of Noel’s depths and appreciation, but perhaps were ideas he thought weren’t right to explore on earlier projects. In short, as a follow up to his self-titled debut, Chasing Yesterday manages yet another and more expansive breath of fresh air for the songwriter.
Of course Gallagher snuck a few lesser expected Oasis cuts into the set, such as Noel’s signature rendition of B-side “Fade Away”, and the nostalgic punkier Definitely Maybe classic, “Digsy’s Dinner”. Between tunes there was little talking from Noel, until almost like script, he took cues from friendly hecklers shouting, ‘where’s Liam?!’. Taking in stride (this dude has to have heard that question a million times) Noel would happily banter back ‘who’s Liam’ or would roll into a short story about how he last time he was in LA he found himself having an ‘Extraordinary evening with Marilyn Manson and his brother’. Noel Gallagher’s encore consisted of more predictable Oasis songs like “Champagne Supernova”, “The Master Plan”, and “Don’t Look Back In Anger”. In some ways the encore felt unfortunate, with issue not being that the songs didn’t sound incredible; or that these tunes weren’t great songs, nor that fans were singing along in ecstatic joy to hear them, but more so the idea that perhaps one of the best and prolific songwriters of the last 30 years just might himself finally believe that his greatest songwriting efforts have been achieved. Making you wonder what a title like Chasing Yesterday really means to him.
“Shoot A Hole Into The Sun” is a first taste of what’s to come on Noel Gallagher’s forthcoming Amorphous Androgynous collaboration. The track will also be featured as the b-side to his new “Dream On” single getting released on March 11. Segments of this track may sound familiar to those who caught Noel on tour in late 2011, where portions of the track were covertly mixed into the house speakers before he took stage. The psychedelic duo, Amorphous Androgynous, do a capable job of pushing the limits here on Noel’s sound and it will be interesting to hear what else is to come.
Last Friday night at Royce Hall in Los Angeles, The Hours took full advantage of an audience looking for something new in a familiar framework. Like Royce Hall (*see below) and headliner Noel Gallagher, history serves an indicator.
The UK collective fronted by Antony Glenn (former Pulp and Elastica fame to name a few) and Martin Slattery (who shares a connection through collaborations with Joe Strummer) kicked things off with recent single “I Want More.” The song caught the attention of fans stranded in the lobby trying to quickly finish their drinks. The Hour’s opt for Slattery’s multi-sectional musicianship in favor of a traditional bass player. Their blend of pop melodies and driving rhythms conjures an eclectic mix of everything from The Doves, Spoon, The Rolling Stones, and Spiritualized, with even moments Jeff Buckley and his protégés coming to mind. The band’s airtight set consisted heavily of material from their new I Want More EP as well as the band’s It’s Not How You Start, It’s How You Finish US debut. At one point The Hours invited two soulful women to stage to sing a few tracks with them. The audience’s playful approval of hoots and hollering felt most convincing during “Soul Music for Troubled Souls”. It’s the sort of song concerned with bigger messages and overall statements. And in such an economically wounded political environment, something like that might have been why the girl behind me tapped my shoulder to ask who the opening band was. The song drew a welcome response, as the did the band – as well as the bro-Noel banter between tracks. “What’s not to love about Noel” Antony asked? True, but there’s lots to like about watching The Hours. Get familiar and pick up a copy of I Want More.The Hours – Soul Music for Troubled Souls
The Hours (Official)
A musical homage to Noel Gallagher’s mentors played through the house speakers during the sets interlude. It was the High Flying Birds second night in LA on a sold out six city American tour. Having recorded the album in LA, I wondered about Noel’s affinity for American culture? The album artwork on the streets of Los Angeles, the music video in a Pioneer Town like desert world? What role did the west coast play in High Flying Birds? There’s even an American in the band, as Noel himself takes the piss at later in the show. More importantly being a KROQ Presents show, and him being here now with HFB, will Americans find any new inspiration in him?
A variation of “If I Had A Gun” from Noel Gallagher’s forthcoming Amorphous Androgenous collaboration lay stealth in the speakers as the lights soon dimmed and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds took stage. A folky version of early b-side “It’s Good to Be Free” opened the show; offering a fresh take on something classic. Which would set the tone nicely for the rest of the set. In true house band fashion the High Flying Birds performed a majority of their self-titled debut LP near sequentially with several musical intermissions of fan favorites.
Noel looked alive and free of any preconceived notions about his stage presence in Oasis. Standing in the middle of the stage with the conviction of Noel Gallagher, and joining him were four of his High Flying Birds on bass, keys, drums and guitar. Given all of it’s various versions, lead album track “Everybody Is On The Run” sounds even complete with a five piece. Noel’s band sounded great. The back up singing, even finger picking on bass, all the versatility felt just right. But these weren’t hired guns, they each played with style. Noel wears great musicians like he does great songs. But to hear drumming from Jeremy Stacey of The Lemon Trees on songs like “If I Had A Gun” played with the same type of spunk as the early Tony McCarroll… it became clear that this band was a very well fit experience.
“The Good Rebel” first broke the album’s sequence sneaking in before it’s release’s flip-track “Death of You and Me” – a song that really brings out the Ennio Morricone in Noel Gallagher, with it’s ragtime piano and lyric “I’m watching the TV or is it watching me” maintaining there album highlights. New song “Freaky Teeth” followed as the audience got their second taste of what’s to come from Noel in 2012. Similar to the variation of “If I Had A Gun” mentioned earlier, “Freaky Teeth”explores classic rock and psychedelic roads travelled much less if ever by Oasis. To wrap intermission Noel played a pair of near solo acoustic classics. The audience tried to let him sing “Wonderwall” but couldn’t resist on “Supersonic”.
Switching gears back to High Flying Birds the audience adjusted their Gallagher frequency as the sampled sound of children playing filled the atmosphere leading the band into new album’s anthem “(I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine”. In-between songs fans shout for requests as if to indulge in the hilarity of Noel’s retorts. Following “Broken Arrow” Noel mentions that in his head he’d just heard “The Masterplan” the entire time’. Other highlights from the set included High Flying Birds ancestor track, “Half the World Away” and a few extended jam sessions prompting Gallagher to actually introduce each of the band members before ending the set.
The Chief returned to stage with a “thank you so fucking much” for a small encore set of fan favorites before he and his birds took a final bow.Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – The Good Rebel
*Royce Hall kind of reminds me of the Soldier Field renovation in Chicago. Circumstances differ but Royce Hall was renovated and redesigned as contemporary within elements of it’s original framework. Add world-renowned acoustics and well I see why the venue fit the evening’s event.
Many are eager to know if Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will fly too high on his forthcoming US solo debut LP. Here’s our track by track on an album we’ve been waiting to hear for a loooonnng time:
Everybody’s on the Run. We prefer the bootleg soundcheck. That said, Noel’s treatment for the track is nothing short of an epic testament to the tune. Instrumentally the song explores some of Noel’s most lush arrangements to date, and it’s just one example on High Flying Birds that illustrates his affinity to a more broad pallet of music and instrumentation.
Dream On. A Gallagher LP standard strut worthy must. Classic brit pop nod to a T, add a fashioned touch. If you like any gems from post-Be Here Now Oasis then you’ll likely enjoy what’s to come. I think of it like the way I perceive some of the Early Wings stuff – of course not because of The Beatles cliches but because it’s a great tune that represents everything Oasis was and still can/could’ve been.If I Had A Gun. One of Noel Gallagher’s best songs to date. Like what I wanted “Little By Little” to be, an anthem of the most genuine type. It’s been a while since Noel has hit that anthemic single pocket. “If I Had A Gun” seems to pour our out of Noel Gallagher. Like he never doubted a note of it.
The Death of You and Me. Waiting until midnight PST for this track debut on Noel’s website the world got their first glimpse at the High Flying Birds concept. The video, spaghetti western-inflected, portrayed Noel Gallagher’s whimsical and more classically cinematic musical interests. Burt Bacharach, Sgt. Peppers, Going Nowhere… A refrain for the books. Class act.
I Wanna Live In A Dream (In My Record Machine). Another from the Noelchives. I laughed when I saw it was on the LP and definitely don’t blame Liam Gallagher for calling bullshit. “I Wanna Live In A Dream” could be on any Oasis album. A song no doubt plotted for years to be played on a single world tour and then likely never again. Still it’s a good track that really brings out the classic rock influence in Noel Gallagher. Bonus points for the “Stop the Clocks” coda.
AKA What A Life. Noel Gallagher dreams in a style of almost trance-like percussion. #Tailgunner. But seriously a stunning and simple tune by a seasoned writer when broken down.
Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks. Ladies and gentlemen may we introduce to you Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds? A fantastic vocal from Noel; dynamic, warm, dialed-in. “On and on we go” is the sort of refrain we could of only hoped to hear on this album. The cadences are irresistible.
AKA Broken Arrow Think about an AC version of “D’Yer Wanna Be Space Man” played in a minor key. Like what Paul Weller would sound like if he covered that tune today. “Broken Arrow” embodies the songwriter that flows through Noel Gallagher’s veins in tow with vibrant production that truly paints a picture. It’s no doubt radio friendly for today’s aging formatted audiences.
(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach. Thank you for writing this song Noel Gallagher. Another sneering highlight from the NG that brought us pissed off songs like “Headshrinker”, “I Can See A Liar”, “Force of Nature”. Ironically, either Noel’s mocking little brother Liam at times or it’s just creepy to hear how much the the two can sound like family. Whatever the case, we know you’re in your 40s Noel but never mind the bollocks.
Stop The Clocks. Waves crashing (hmm) lead us into this albums epic closer. And in particular, Liam we feel you on this one. “Stop The Clocks”, written not long after September 11 finally gets it’s record debut. The verdict, another flag waver destined for Noel’s arsenal of writing trophies. At moments I hear how Noel found it outside of the Oasis box, but “Clocks” embodies the qualities that make all Oasis album closers great. It’s like a track that re-assures you have just experienced an album. But does it feel like High Flying Birds?
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will be released Tuesday November 8, 2011. Be sure to check it out along with some of the great b-sides we’ve heard so far from Noel’s new project. #AMORPHOUSANDROGENOUS2012
Stream the entire album at Rolling Stone.
UNKLE goes to town on “Lord Let The Light Shine On Me” from Noel’s forthcoming solo debut. The UK outfit serve up a nice balance of Noel’rific writing (of the LP’s more Oasis-like tunes) and outside the box type elements that we can come to expect from High Flying Birds. Is that a gospel singer Noel? Get the album November 8th.
Noel Gallagher (Official)
NG’s songwriting clinic continues on “Alone on the Rope”. If Noel were a new artist every bloggerdude out there would be falling over themselves to content farm this shit. Perception is the game. Noel is old and Oasis aren’t cool. We love you Noel.Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Alone on the Rope
Noel Gallagher (Official)
“I’d Pick You Every Time”, the b-side to NG’s “If I Had a Gun” single, continues Noel’s record with great b-sides that stretches back to the earliest days of Oasis. It’s often that Noel saves these more folkier divergences for the b-side. And the half-time, almost countrified (is that a banjo, Noel?) “I’d Pick You Every Time” is very much in that “Folky” Noel lane. Spin it below.Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – I’d Pick You Every Time
Noel Gallagher (Official)
Noel Gallagher’s never been too shy to fuck with a drum set or two. “AKA… What A Life” commands a dance floor. As adept as he is with chord progression and melody, Noel is well capable at capturing rhythmic moments when he wants to. Who else would have known Whitey’s drumming chops were the perfect fit for the rest of WTSMG? “AKA… What A Life” finds the pocket and maybe gives a glimpse to Noel’s forthcoming collaboration with Amorphous Androgynous.Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – AKA… What A Life