Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at Kenwood House
Under a clement yet murky sky, Noel Gallagher inconspicuously saunters onto the stage for the tenth stop on the first UK and Ireland tour since lockdown, followed by his regular touring members, which proceed to grow in number as different instruments are required across the 18-song setlist.
Though his recent album release was the decade-spanning Back the Way We Came: Vol 1 (2011-2021), the setlist for this tour is a celebration of his experimentally-tinged recent output since critically acclaimed third album Who Built the Moon? and, of course, Oasis classics and deep cuts.
The eclectic complexity of the first four tracks seems to be a demanding task for the sound engineers, though. Accompanying singer YSEE’s sonorous wails on Fort Knox are oddly stifled by the thumping drums of Chris Sharrock pounding through the air. Even Noel’s is somewhat muted, too, when he introduces the band during the well-received glam-rock-inspired Holy Mountain.
Fortunately, though he has PA-system struggles on occasion until the close of the main set, the microphone issues are resolved by fourth song She Taught Me to Fly. Not only does that mean we can hear his mellifluously infectious melodies as clear as a bell until the rapturously-received, encore-closing Don’t Look Back in Anger but the audience is treated to his infamously droll comments that lighten the leaden-skied evening and are becoming quintessential when he performs live.
Some of his especially wry moments are when he comments on Liam (and other audience members across the evening) frequenting the surrounding Hampstead Heath for dogging, the ticket price being worth it just to hear the adoringly received Oasis single Little by Little and the lack of commercial success his recent output has, criminally, failed to garner.
The “hit after hit” he promises us after 15 minutes appears after nine songs and is euphorically received by an Oasis-hungry crowd. Unlike brother Liam, who opts for the heavier tracks when he plays live, Noel selects the acoustic-driven cuts from his former band’s glory days. Gallagher Junior may have made Whatever and Wonderwall euphonically memorable in the 90s, but Gallagher Senior’s performance feels even more treasured, judging by the clamorous singalong that greets both songs.
The price may have been steep, and the balance of Oasis to solo output may be less than what you would get if seeing Liam, but history and tonight’s wit-infused performance proves Noel is a British musical wonder.
Photos: Virgine Viche
For further information and future events visit Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Bird’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Flying on the Ground here: