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Noel Gallagher doesn’t ignore past while looking forward

Noel Gallagher performs at a recent concert wearing a jacket much warmer-looking than his garb at The Tabernacle Friday night. Photo credit: Yui Mok / Associated Press

Noel Gallagher performs at a recent concert wearing a jacket much warmer-looking than his garb at The Tabernacle Friday night. Photo credit: Yui Mok / Associated Press

A few songs into his set, Noel Gallagher had a quick interaction with a fan near the stage whose kid was attending her first concert.

 “It’s all downhill from here,” Gallagher smirked.

 For years the guts of Oasis, the stadium-filling (overseas) Britpop superstars, Noel Gallagher will always be known as the melodic maestro, the one who wrote those glorious guitar-jangle pop songs sung by his irascible brother, Liam.

 Their Cain and Abel routine eventually led to the demise of Oasis in 2009 and the brothers Gallagher went their separate musical ways – Noel with his High Flying Birds and Liam with Beady Eye.

 On Friday, Noel and the Birds (bassist Russell Pritchard, drummer Jeremy Stacey, guitarist Tim Smith – who hails from Atlanta – and a fill-in keyboardist for regular Mike Rowe, home with his wife and newborn), brought their vaguely psychedelic rock-pop to a sold out Tabernacle.

 While no one will ever accuse either Gallagher of having a dented ego, Noel is wise enough to know that as good as his new songs are, he can’t abandon the Oasis classics that made him rich and established his musical identity.

 Nearly half of the 20-song set harkened to Oasis’ heyday, from the opener “(It’s Good) To Be Free,” a blatant nod to his Liam-less career, to a gorgeous acoustic version of “Supersonic,” Oasis’ first single released this month in 1994.

 But it was apparent from the first lines of the new “Everybody’s on the Run,” that the majority of Gallagher’s fans aren’t just Oasis holdovers, but respectful of his songcraft in general.

 The singalongs were not only frequent, but hearty.

 Granted, most of the songs on the self-titled High Flying Birds record would have snuggled comfortably on any Oasis album, so it’s not as if fans were asked to digest anything grossly unfamiliar.

“Dream On,” propelled by a simple but driving four-on-the-floor beat, proved itself a perfect pub anthem with its infectious “Shout it out for me,” refrain (the song as a whole, though, is rather bleak) and the not-yet-recorded “Freaky Teeth,” while a bit cacophonous, made your bones rattle from Stacey’s locomotive drumming.

 But it’s the lilting melodies and head-bobbing choruses of “The Death of You and Me” and (“I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine” that draw the inevitable Beatles’ comparisons. And why not? They’re sonic gems steeped in the history of Lennon and McCartney 101. That’s a good thing.

 Meanwhile, as proof that Gallagher isn’t only about harmony and melody, “Half the World Away” and “(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach” are loud rock songs with little nuance, but plenty of muscle.

 Noel’s voice is slightly deeper and warmer than Liam’s, and sounded clear and strong most of the 90-minute set. And while he isn’t a particularly showy frontman, his dry wit (sometimes tough to decipher through his thick Manchester accent) and lighthearted banter with those closest to the stage gave the impression that he’s perfectly content interacting with people, but the music is strictly on his terms.

 Swapping acoustic or electric guitars after nearly every song and staying true to a set list established at the start of this nine-date U.S. tour (he played New York and California late last year), Gallagher clearly hasn’t lost his perfectionist edge. But as he sang “Whatever,” Oasis’ sunny declaration of independence, it was apparent that he’s loose enough to enjoy this new freedom to do whatever he chooses.

By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene blog

Follow me on Twitter @ajclifestyle

19 comments Add your comment

Can't wait to see him!!

April 7th, 2012
8:56 am

I didn’t see Noel Gallagher at the Tabernacle although I wish I did. I get to see him at Coachella Music Festival in SoCal on 4/20 Weekend along with the Black Keys, Radiohead, Dr. Dre and Snoop, among others…..it’s my third Coachella and this one will be the best. Noel Gallagher is a musical genius and his new stuff is Great. I wonder if he played “if I had a Gun” at the Tabernacle. Brilliant song!!

Ellsworth Ware, III

April 7th, 2012
9:01 am

Drove to Atlanta from Nashville with two others to see Oasis perform at the Midtown Festival in 2000. We made the trip b/c we knew that the band would more likely NOT perform in, um, ‘Music City’ anytime soon, and it never did up to its demise a few years ago.

That being said, I am so glad that I got to see Noel, Liam and the others at their melodic peak, and was close enough to the stage to get some great photos of the brothers gettin’ down.

Michael Shersby

April 7th, 2012
10:51 am

But is not Oasis the greatest British band since the Beatles? Can we not vote on this?!

Rockdale Res

April 7th, 2012
10:58 am

Yes, he played “If I Had a Gun”– and it was great. Brilliant performance by Noel!

Union Jack

April 7th, 2012
11:15 am

The energy was awesome. Supersonic, acoustic? Surprisingly worked beautifuly. It is true it was about a 90% sing a long. Been to every Oasis show that has came through town and NGHFB was better than any of those shows. Please tell me someone bootlegged the show so I can go buy it.

Eric

April 7th, 2012
12:09 pm

Great show!! Saw Oasis in 2002 at the Tabernacle as well as Music Midtown in 2000. And finally after 12 years I can say that I met Noel Gallagher last night. Highlight of the year!! Great guy and he signed every person’s item before going into the gig. Fan for life! Thanks Noel!

Rockdale Res

April 7th, 2012
1:23 pm

For real, if it is bootlegged, I’ll buy it!

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Justthinkin33

April 7th, 2012
4:22 pm

I bought tickets a while ago and almost didn’t go but Noel & Co. really did deliver. Playing some of my favorite (and I believe Noel’s favorite) Oasis songs such as “Talk Tonight” “Little By Little”, “Whatever” “It’s Good to be Free” “Don’t Look Back In Anger” Noel is clearly not a very bombastic performer nor does he seem to try to be, rarely unleashing blistering solos. And while he’s never been accused of being humble, his interviews I’ve always found refreshingly down to earth and funny, striking a kind of proud Manchester working-class normalcy that’s never struck me as som kind of “act.” I confess I’ve not bought the NGHFB album…but I certainly will now.

James

April 7th, 2012
11:26 pm

This show was amazing! Noel was great and the audience was pretty damn good. Granted it was not Wembley but it was not bad. A lot of people singing along, a drunken fight, and Noel’s whit made for a great evening. Glad the Atlanta fans supported Noel as much as they did. I came from Charleston and have to say Atl made it worth the trip. Can’t wait to see him again. Great guy signed everyone stuff before the gig.

Rob

April 8th, 2012
3:12 pm

Amazing show, made the trip from Asheville, from beginning to end Noel was on top form. Can’t say a bad thing about it, though I wish I’d been able to meet him.

Atl fan

April 8th, 2012
7:10 pm

Ellsworth,
They did play music city. Somehow you missed a great show at the Ryman in 2006.

Great show by Noel Friday night

Valerie

April 8th, 2012
10:17 pm

We drove down from Durham and don’t regret it for a second. Noel just exudes cool and is a fantastic performer. I saw Oasis at a sold out Madison Square Garden in 2005 (my #2 concert ever after Paul McCartney in Piedmont Park, rain and all), and Friday’s show was every bit as exciting and energetic. Now if only I didn’t have to travel to another state to see the brothers Oasis.

Carlaruth

April 9th, 2012
10:27 am

It was a great set from start to finish. Good to see Noel smiling and enjoying himself onstage and not glowering at Liam. Nice mix of HFB, Oasis and even a couple of new tracks. If I can’t see Oasis, this will work just fine.

Jennifer

April 9th, 2012
10:51 am

Truly a perfect show from beginning to end. Noel was amazing and the mix of HFB and fan favorite Oasis tunes was fantastic. Plus I can say that I met Noel Gallagher! A 17 year old dream fulfilled! I came over from Charleston, but it was worth every second of the drive. I can’t wait to see Noel again. Such a class act.

Todd

April 9th, 2012
11:54 am

My daughter mentioned in the article had an amazing time! It was my 43rd time seeing Oasis/Noel and he never disappoints! It was a very special night for my daughter that she will never forget. She gave him a letter at soundcheck and signed everyone’s stuff. At the end of the show, my daughter was given the drumstick, Noel’s guitar picks and the set list. CLASS ACT!! Now headed to Phoenix and Las Vegas for 44 and 45…..never get’s old.

ChopAttack

April 9th, 2012
2:32 pm

Drove all way from Sarasota, FL. It was a horrible drive but well worth the show.

oasisbird

April 9th, 2012
6:18 pm

Thanks for the review….the show was absolute perfection…drove down from NC…Hey Todd…here is the clip of Noel playing for Isabelle (girl mentioned in article)….enjoy :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Mzem6F_P7E

Steven

April 9th, 2012
6:55 pm

Was an amazing show. Plus my life long dream of meeting the chief capped this great night