NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS | LIVE REVIEW
Singleton Park, Swansea, Fri 2 Sept
The mods may be mainly middle-aged but the paisley is plentiful and there is an air of boozy optimism amongst the 10,000 or so who’ve packed Singleton Park to pay homage to one of the idols of UK rock‘n’roll. Promoters Orchard have transformed the park into a festival site and there seems a collective willingness to prolong the fading rays of summer amongst the welly-booted and bucket-hatted crowd. Excitement swells and the faithful sway to the sound of their own voices, chanting “don’t take me home,” as the lights dim.
Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds nonchalantly stroll onto a UV-lit stage amidst a magnificent roar of excitement and get proceedings underway with Everybody’s On the Run: a slow-paced anthem, bittersweet in tone, as with all of Gallagher’s best moments. And there are plenty of those moments on show tonight, both from his more recent material with High Flying Birds and, to the crowd’s delight, from his long and prodigious career with Oasis. Noel was always the beating heart of that band, responsible for their finest output, and tonight’s delivery of songs like The Masterplan demonstrates his talent for writing the sort of song most wannabe rock stars would give a limb for.
Of course, it’s not just his songwriting talent that makes Gallagher such a gifted entertainer: his gutter wit and cocksure swagger are such that he could have had the crowd in his pocket without playing a note. Memorably, he asks a seven-year-old in the crowd: “What do you want to be when you grow up? Apart from me?” Unimpressed, the boy announces that he’ll be a footballer, to Gallagher’s disgust. After delivering a version of Champagne Supernova so uproariously received that the chorus could have been heard in Llanelli, Gallagher cocks an eyebrow at the kid and questions whether he’d like to revisit his earlier answer.
The swagger and bombast is tempered by a moving version of Half The World Away, which Gallagher dedicates to the Royle Family – poignant, in the light of the recent death of the show’s star, Caroline Aherne. It doesn’t take long to lift things back to fever pitch, though, and the singalongs to Wonderwall and the closing Don’t Look Back In Anger provide moments of overwhelming shared enjoyment that will live long in the memory. Simply supersonic.
words and photos HUGH RUSSELL