May 29, 2015

Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds @ The Orpheum Theater, Los Angeles 05/20/15


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.

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