You know you’re getting older when the prospect of a punctual show beginning at 8:30pm sharp is actually as endearing as the artist themselves. I could be home by 11pm on a weeknight? Sign me up.
Noel Gallagher returned to Adelaide last night with his band, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, for possibly the only Bluesfest sideshow South Australia got this year (I could be wrong, feel free to correct…). In any case, my social media feeds indicated that this was one many down here had been looking forward to, especially off the back of reviews from interstate shows and glimmers of memories from the band’s last visit to Adelaide, for the Big Day Out some years ago.
All I remember of that festival set was Gallagher giving the crowd the option of choosing “Wonderwall” or “Don’t Look Back in Anger” during the set, and a rousing drunken sing along of the latter following soon after. At this show however, there were no chants for Oasis songs (except for a few calls for “Supersonic”), as the set was a fairly even split between NGHFB material and the classics from the iconic Britpop band’s catalogue.
We were in the Theatre of the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, not the Arena, but surprisingly the sound was a lot better than I’d been expecting, given we were essentially corralled inside a concrete garage. The guitar riffs rang out richly and the vocals were crisp, hanging in the air with each delivery.
I’ve always wondered if Gallagher has moments where he takes moments pre-show to ponder what percentage of the crowd is in attendance purely for the music and what percentage has rocked up expecting him to be a caricature of himself; the NME-elevated demigod whose labelling of some young bands as talentless cunts is as much a soundbite or tagline as it is a serious opinion.
Even when I interviewed him ahead of this tour, I braced myself for a barrage of insults or classic ‘Noel-isms’ but what I was met with was something quite the opposite and it was this same vibe I felt at the show. He’s funny, musically knowledgeable (understandably) and wasn’t afraid of expressing vulnerabilities. On stage, he comes across as slightly grumpy, incredibly self-assured and very dry, but as soon as Gallagher starts performing, you’re taken in by that style of songwriting and performance that put him on the map with Oasis in the first place.
From “Everybody’s on the Run” at the start of the show, through performances of “Riverman”, “You Know We Can’t Go Back” and “Dying of the Light”, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds lit up the theatre with some impressive live music. We were given some great throwbacks; “Champagne Supernova” dropping earlier in the set than I’d expected, followed by “Half the World Away”, “D’Yer Wanna Be a Spaceman?” and “The Masterplan” standing out, garnering huge reactions.
Not spending much time engaging with the crowd, aside from a few amusing quips back and forth with some people in the front few rows, Gallagher’s wider crowd interaction was limited to ‘Thank you very much,’ and ‘I’ll see you all in another five years. Okay, maybe four and a half. Okay, definitely four.’ It didn’t matter to me anyway, I was loving seeing the man play guitar in particular – some of these song arrangements stood out as some of my favourites penned by him, so to hear them executed as professionally as they were last night was a treat in itself.
An encore saw NGHFB whip out “Wonderwall” and “AKA…What a Life!”, before “Don’t Look Back in Anger” brought everyone together for an impassioned sing along only that song can provoke. Gallagher’s delivery of “Wonderwall” was one I particularly enjoyed; slightly faster, vocally, than the original, he made it his own. For the finale though, it was nice that it was kept faithful to the original, Gallagher letting the crowd take over completely on the chorus before joining in on the final run as the theatre was bathed in blue hues for the last time.