November 22, 2011

SHOW REVIEW: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds / The Hours @ Royce Hall, Los Angeles 11/18/11


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 england (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

Noel Gallagher england (Official) (Album Stream at Rolling Stone)




Rating 8.7


*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.

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