Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Brighton Centre – 22nd April 2018

Photo by Jamie MacMillan

Always the more reserved of the two brothers, Noel Gallagher was also the brains behind one of the world’s biggest ever bands. It’s no surprise then that his solo output has received more critical acclaim than his sibling’s, with his last offering representing the album you feel he’s always wanted to make.

Whilst Liam drafted in an experienced songwriting team and kept it safe for As You Were, Noel’s entered what he calls a ‘cosmic pop’ territory for his third. Collaborating with dance producer, DJ and soundtrack composer David Holmes, it has pushed him out of his comfort zone and into a far more spacier terrain that has elements of electronica, dance-rock and glam.

He took to the stage and went straight into four tracks from this album, which were all amplified with a thrilling show of lasers, lights and psychedelic backdrops that brought a mind-altering 60s vibe to proceedings. He then let the music speak for itself and didn’t say anything until six songs in when he jokingly called one member of the audience “A scouse c***” and encouraged the inebriated, weekend audience to, “Chant my f**king name.”

‘Fort Knox’s Screamadelica-ish vibe and ‘Holy Mountain’s’ psych-rock propulsive were two of the highlights from the new record, whilst the likes of ‘Keep on Reaching’ and its expansive brass-laden framework also sounds brilliant in a live environment. Meanwhile, songs such as the saxophone-induced ‘Riverman’ and Hacienda-esque ‘AKA… What a Life!’ from his other solo endeavours came across marvellously.

However, the biggest surprise of the night had to be the brilliant ‘Dead in the Water’- a glimmering acoustic song he recorded off the cuff several years ago that made it onto Who Built the Moon? as a bonus track. Its appearance in the set list exemplifies its already cult status and you feel as though it would be gracing the top end of the charts had it been released two decades ago.

“Are there any Oasis fans in here? You’ve come to the right place,” joked Noel as he struck the first chords of ‘Little By Little.’ This was the first of six of his old band’s tracks in what formed a surprise selection. ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ aside, he chose more obscure offerings from the back catalogue in the form of ‘The Importance Of Being Idle,’ ‘Half The World Away’ and ‘Go Let It Out.’ With these unsurprisingly gaining the biggest crowd reactions of the evening.

Not to leave the stage quietly, he finished off the weekend with a stupendous cover of The Beatles’ ‘All You Need is Love’. “I’ll see you all soon, probably at some shitty festival. We’ll be third on the bill. Fucking travesty,” he joked. On this showing, his devotees will be following him around all summer.

Paul Hill