Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Manchester – Heaton Park
7 June 2019
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds played a rain-soaked Heaton Park on Friday night. Nigel Carr (words) and Michael Bond (photos) report back on the gig for Louder Than War.
The two support bands we missed were Inhaler featuring a young Elijah Hewson (Bono Jnr) delivering his own styles of powerful indie/punk and White Denim. I’d seen Inhaler at The Neighbourhood Festival in Warrington just 10 days before and their swaggering delivery was pretty infectious. It did tend, inevitably to swing into U2 territory in parts but at the core ran a confident frontman and some cool tunes.
Doves haven’t played together for 10 years and I’d forgotten just how damn good this band was. I’ve no idea why they are not currently playing together with such a rich canon of songs under their belts, but if any time is right for their return it’s now! (In an interview with NME frontman Jim Goodwin insisted they had not split and that there is every chance of new material). Admittedly some of the guitar riffs reveal a possible lack of rehearsal, but with their gentle lilting style, falling somewhere between Elbow and Oasis they put on a cracking show even if the audience doesn’t quite respond as they would like. Ten years is a long time to stay away so I guess they can be forgiven for the subdued reaction.
They close with There Goes The Fear preceded by Jim asking ‘Are you getting ready for the mighty Noel G?’ before taking front of stage to batter the floor toms in an epic finish to close their set
During the interval, there’s an awesome mash-up of Helter Skelter and Whole Lotta Love and with a couple of Carlsbergs in me, I’m starting to get in the mood!
There’s a deep extended drone which reaches fever pitch as the band strolls on to the stage. Noel in a tight leather jacket looking svelte, nonchalant and cool leads the band straight into Fort Knox followed by Holy Mountain and the crowd is already getting behind them. The track chugs along like a careering juggernaut, pummelling and persistent. Such a simple song but that’s the Gallagher knack isn’t it? Taking subtle chords changes that twist and squirm forming good old fashioned anthems. By the time they get to She Taught Me How To Fly it’s starting to feel like a proper event.
New single Black Star Dancing finds the band in a more dance-oriented mode – new and unfamiliar, the track is released as an EP on June 14. It’s subdued and lo-fi so when they break into Talk Tonight in the first of a slew of Oasis tracks the crowd suddenly comes alive – arms in the air in a full-on sing-along!
It doesn’t stop as the hits volley forth – The Important Of Being Idle and little By Little being cleverly interspersed with High Flying Birds’ tracks Dead In The Water and If I had a Gun which sounds epic. A big stomping glam track, camera phones glittering in the slowly enveloping darkness. Noel backdropped by swirling black silk as the rain starts to hammer down. The crowd is clearly not just here for an Oasis sing-along and the HFB stuff sits comfortably astride the old favourites.
Masterplan is masterful. The great Oasis track that was never a single, sounding awesome. The crowd knows every word. We’re on the home straight as the fun continues to rumble with Wonderwall and Stop Crying Your Heart Out leading us into the break.
Whatever and Half The World Away immediately reignite the momentum before Manchester post-bomb, de-facto anthem of our times, Don’t Look Back In Anger is beautifully done by the man who wrote it! Noel barely has to utter a word as the whole of Heaton Park sings it back to him.
The band closes with All You Need Is Love, before the crowd slopes of sated through the mud into the soggy darkness.
The set feels effortlessly done and despite the dividing Manchester City flags which the frontman insists in parading on the video screens, the whole crowd is on Noel’s side. With nine oasis tracks peppering the set you’d be forgiven for thinking that Noel was pushing for a reunion, who knows? Here’s hoping – with Liam releasing Oasis soundalikes like current single Shockwave, it seems that the time might just be right!
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Played:
Keep On Reaching
It’s a Beautiful World
She Taught Me How to FlyBlack Star DancingTalk Tonight
The Importance of Being Idle
Little by Little
Dead in the Water
Everybody’s on the Run
If I Had a Gun…
AKA… What a Life!
Stop Crying Your Heart Out
Half the World Away
Don’t Look Back in Anger
All You Need Is Love
June 14 – Isle Of Wight Festival
June 16 – Malahide Castle Dublin
Words by Nigel Carr. More writing by Nigel on Louder Than War can be found in his Author’s archive. You can find Nigel on Twitter and Facebook and his own Website. Photos by Michael Bond who is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.