Post-Oasis, Noel Gallagher proves he hasn’t lost his touch at the Merriam Theater

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Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN

I’m sure you know the story by now. On the heels of Oasis’s nasty breakup in 2009, the English band’s curmudgeonly fraternal duo of Noel and Liam Gallagher went their separate ways, with Noel angrily referring to Liam as “a man with a fork in a world of soup.” Each brother started his own new band. Liam began Beady Eye and Noel initiated Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. At first it wasn’t clear whether either brother could survive without the other. Noel was – by far – the better songwriter of the pair, but would Oasis ever be capable of reaching their full potential without Liam singing the majority of those songs? Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds are the closest thing to that thought experiment, and Philadelphians got to see it first hand last night at South Broad Street’s Merriam Theater.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN

The answer is both yes and no. The live band was tight, and – with the help of the absolutely superb acoustics of the Merriam Theater – sounded even better in person than on their albums. It’s hard not to imagine better versions of the songs with Liam singing them, but that ship has sailed – or, rather, it sunk into a trench of hatred and misery given the Gallaghers’ notorious animosity for each other. That being said, the elder Noel proved that he’s entirely capable of pulling his own weight without his younger brother, and that his post-Oasis career is still one worth watching. On the setlist were a variety of songs from NGHFB’s three albums, including “Dream On,” from the band’s self-titled debut; “Ballad of the Mighty I,” from the followup, Chasing Yesterday, and “Holy Mountain” from last year’s Who Build The Moon?. Yes, they played Oasis songs – but mostly ones Noel sings lead on, as one would expect. Last night’s performance featured six of them: “The Importance of Being Idle,” “Little By Little,” “Half The World Away,” “Go Let It Out,” “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” and (of course) the much-anticpated-even-if-slightly-overrated “Wonderwall,” which the crowd went nuts for.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN

Gallagher wanted those in attendance to know that it wasn’t lost upon him that he was in the city that housed the Super Bowl champs – even if he did it in his typical bellyaching manner. “First of all, it’s not fucking World Champions,” he said. “Nobody plays that game but you.” Later on in the show Noel let out another quip, something along the lines of “OK, so you win the Super Bowl. And then you tear up your town?” Apparently they don’t do that in Manchester.

We’d prefer Noel be making those banterous witticisms alongside his brother and the rest of the Oasis guys, but in a world with no Oasis, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds are the next best thing. We’ll take it.

Setlist
Fort Knox
Holy Mountain
Keep on Reaching
It’s a Beautiful World
In the Heat of the Moment
Riverman
Ballad of the Mighty I
Dream On
If I Had a Gun…
The Importance of Being Idle (Oasis cover)
Little by Little (Oasis cover)
Half the World Away (Oasis cover)
She Taught Me How to Fly
Be Careful What You Wish For
Black & White Sunshine
Wonderwall (Oasis cover)
Don’t Look Back in Anger(Oasis cover)
AKA… What a Life!

Encore:
Dead in the Water
Go Let It Out (Oasis cover)
All You Need Is Love (The Beatles cover)

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