Harriet Kaplan

Noel Gallagher @ The Orpheum – 05/20/2015

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noel gallagherBlending a few Oasis songs with material from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds self-titled debut album and their newest release, “Chasing Yesterday,” the band fronted by the legendary singer/songwriter and guitarist of one of the biggest Britpop groups of the 90s, seemed willing to revisit the past rather than just stay there. The sold-out crowd had something else in mind screaming out the familiar song titles they wanted to hear. Standing for the entire show at The Orpheum Theater, the fans let out the biggest cheers for the five Oasis songs performed including “Champagne Supernova.” Initially, Gallagher teased he wasn’t going to play it but gave in. That didn’t mean Gallagher was in anyway passive or laid back. Though he was gracious and appreciative to the audience throughout the show and thanked his band mates individually giving them the spotlight. Gallagher even chided the crowd half-jokingly for applauding too long for one band member over another saying that wasn’t good or right.

Gallagher also warmly dedicated a song to Frances Bean Cobain, daughter of the late Kurt Cobain, who was in the audience. Yet Gallagher is known to give as good as he gets and rises to all challenges. Gallagher doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He was tested by a heckler in the audience that asked if his brother Liam was there and Gallagher gave a witty retort putting him back in his place fast. He also shared a funny story about going to his first show at The Orpheum Theater seeing Marilyn Manson with Liam. He described their encounter as a meeting of the minds as they both like to talk shit.

At one point, Gallagher switched from an electric to acoustic guitar and someone shouted are you going back to the 70s. He responded no but he said he was going to folk out like a bastard, though. The band, including second guitarist, bassist, drummer and keyboardist and a brass section, Gallagher called the “international horns” from L.A., didn’t “folk out.”  Instead, they played a straightforward and invigorating style of rock and roll and pop with psychedelic flourishes. The High Flying Birds are talented and skilled musicians. The hour-plus set had peaks of raw energy punctuated by occasional blissed-out instrumental solos.

Mid-tempo and up-tempo songs dominated the set list: “Lock All The Doors,” “The Death of You and Me, “Everybody’s on the Run” and “If I Had a Gun.” The show ended on an emotional high note demonstrating the power of a great, memorable song with a timeless quality to it. The anthemic encore “Don’t Look Back In Anger” brought the audience together singing in unison, swaying to the music and waving their arms together. Although the 90s are long ago, there is always a place for original good music. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds are keeping that tradition alive sometimes looking over their shoulders, paying respect and giving homage to the past but with a focus on moving forward.

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