Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds @ Usher Hall, Edinburgh 27/10/11

Electric. The atmosphere inside Edinburgh’s Usher Hall for this – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ third ever gig – was electric. Noel and his band weren’t on yet, but already you could feel that tonight was going to be special.

It wasn’t long before the wait was over; the lights dimmed and the roar increased. Noel was onstage without Oasis, and after taking centre stage kicked into the extremely apt “(It’s Good) To Be Free”. Immediately the crowd were in the palm of his hands, singing word for word as the band stomped through the track. Another Oasis track, “Mucky Fingers” was up next, and the crowd were lapping it up.

With the crowd entirely on-side, we had a straight run of six new solo tracks. One of which so new (“Freaky Teeth”) it’s not actually been released yet, another (“The Good Rebel”) not even on the standard version of his debut solo album. This didn’t matter, the crowd were loving every minute. During this run of tracks it became clear to me that even though the album had only been out just over a week, almost entirely everyone in the crowd knew all the words and wanted to sing along. This is exactly what Oasis gigs were like, and here we have the same feeling and experience of seeing Oasis when they were at their peak.

Oasis classics “Wonderwall” and “Supersonic” were given to us now, and were greeted like long-lost family! Cleverly Noel played the ‘Ryan Adams version’ of “Wonderwall”, which made it seem somehow greater. “Supersonic” was solo acoustic, and to hear it played this way was a treat. I remember seeing Oasis back on the Definitely Maybe and …Morning Glory tours, during which Noel always played two solo songs on his acoustic guitar. He stopped doing that in the latter years, but tonight the re-scoring of songs to suit just he and his guitar was a pleasure to watch.

The remainder of the set allowed for the band to play the rest of the new album, and mix in another few Oasis songs, all of which were a joy to hear. Everything sounded so good, and also nice that the Noel chose the more obscure greats, not the obvious Oasis hits to perform. Overall though, it was simply such a pleasure to have this particular Gallagher brother back on a stage performing.

For the most part though, Noel wasn’t on his own. He had his “High Flying Birds” with him. The truth is, I have no idea who they are, even though Noel introduced them at one point, and I don’t think anybody else in the venue could have told you either. It didn’t matter. Noel was on stage, and he was playing 19 songs, 9 of which were long-lost relations, the other 10 were family you had only just met!

Noel is not the greatest songwriter in the world, but he was able to write songs which could be adopted by people; songs, which a generation could relate to, and take as their own. He still has that ability as was evident on his new solo album, and his ability to perform live and have a crowd in the palm of his hand is as exacting as ever.

This was a great gig, and one which I will talk about for quite some time.

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds Setlist Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland 2011
Gareth Fraser
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