Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds played on Sunday night at Bluesfest
Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds played on Sunday night at Bluesfest Digby Hildreth

Gallagher flies high with an Oasis of tunes at Bluesfest

THE 19-year-old up front of the heaving Mojo tent knew every word to every song Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds played on Sunday night at Bluesfest, and he bellowed along to them, rapt to be there.

He wasn't alone: the place was packed with teenagers, sober, reverential, worshipping at the feet of the - to them - elder statesman of rock, whose career peaked before they were born.

And Gallagher, the creative brains behind Oasis, responded in kind, gracious, relaxed, jokey, yet still delivering a score of ear-blistering tunes, an even balance of Oasis and Birds' numbers.

God only knows what "our kid" Liam is up to these days but big brother Noel is certainly wearing it well.

He's produced two solid albums since 2011, brimming with clever, well-crafted songs and fresh sounds, including keyboards - brass! - and winning a new generation of fans.

 

 

Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds with a great many fans at Bluesfest
Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds with a great many fans at Bluesfest Digby Hildreth

He's still a shameless, self-proclaimed "gobshite", dissing Adele, Radiohead et al in interviews (while helping his mates Coldplay in the studio), but there was none of the sneery rock god 'tude the siblings radiated in their Oasis heyday, when they wore the Britpop mantle, and threatened to fight anyone to defend it.

While his commitment to keeping the legacy alive is sweatily palpable, the first six songs are all from High Flying Birds. He's not stuck in the Oasis past, but the crowd goes wild when the bum-freezer leather jacket comes off and he launches into Champagne Super Nova, followed by Half the World Away. A little later Wonderwall and set closer Don't Look Back in Anger have the place in a frenzy.

The voice is strong and clear and improving (better than Liam's, reckons young mate) and, on record at least, willing to venture into risky sensitive-man territory.

Live, some of those nuances survive; most disappear beneath an avalanche of sound, the bulk of it delivered by the classic rock three-guitar line-up.

There's no polite introduction of the band members but it's impassive lead axeman Tim Smith who spearheads the assault, letting his fingers do the talking. His very tasty work - and the sterling brass section - save the Beatles-esque The Death of You and Me from a plod-along, and he injects fire into every other number.

The crowd can't get enough, uniting like a soccer mob to sing the "ah-ah-ah" chorus of If I Had A Gun, demanding an encore.

Noel returns, delivers, says thank you and we drift off happily into the night, singing blearily, fearing that all the things we've seen will slowly fade away, knowing we'll rarely find a better place to play.



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