Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Concert Review by Andy Upton
Images by Paul Wilkins
The Majestic Theatre – Dallas, TX
May 14, 2015
Having never seen a concert at the historic Majestic Theatre in beautiful downtown Dallas, I was very excited about the Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds show last Thursday night. The intimate old lady promised to be an excellent venue for such an interesting band fronted by the enigmatic former Oasis lead guitarist. Doing my homework before the show led me to believe that I would be hearing a lot of Noel’s “solo” songs instead of familiar Oasis songs that I was accustomed to.
Having no opening band this evening was a good sign that we could expect a long set by Noel’s current band consisting of bassist Russell Pritchard, drummer Jeremy Stacey, guitarist Tim Smith, pianist Mike Rowe and a three-piece horn section. Opening with “Do the Damage”, the High Flying Birds hit the stage to thunderous applause. I loved how the band was set back into the old timey stage – it gave off a very warm nostalgic feeling. My initial impression of Noel was that he has considerably toned down his act from his tumultuous Oasis days. His vocals and the bands sound were both crisp and clear. Moving into the second song, “(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach” from their first release Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds from 2011, Mike Rowe led off with some very interesting keyboard sounds that then showcased Noel’s guitar playing abilities. The first Oasis cover song of the night was “Fade Away”, a beautiful trip down memory lane brought to us with many old pictures flickering across the backdrop.
Noel Gallagher’s vocal range was featured most prominently during a new song “In The Heat of the Moment” and my favorite old Oasis hit “Champagne Supernova”. He does still have a very distinctive and edgy voice that was complemented well by the backing vocals provided by various members of the band throughout the evening. “Riverman”, the lead off track on their 2015 Chasing Yesterday album had a jazzy, sultry feel to it that contained a wonderful but short sax solo. Other quality offerings from the new album included “Lock All of the Doors”, “You Know We Can’t Go Back” which sounded kind of like the Old 97’s, “Ballad of the Might I”, “The Dying of the Light” and “The Mexican” before which Noel asked if there were any real Mexicans in the crowd (“this ones for you” he said). They also played a few other Oasis songs; “Digsy’s Diner” from 1994’s Definitely Maybe, title track “The Masterplan” from 1998’s album of the same name and during the encore – “Don’t Look Back in Anger”.
Overall, I loved the High Flying Birds mix of Beatles meets Rolling Stones meets Oasis sound. Noel’s voice was wonderful throughout and each member of the band (plus the horn section) played quality music throughout the evening. Pianist Mike Rowe was without a doubt the brightest spot on the stage – he played everything from an ordinary piano, to some far out synthesizer noises to a wonderful Hammond organ sound during “Champagne Supernova”. His loyal fans were eating it up while dancing in the aisles and singing along to their favorite hits. The quieter, acoustic songs held the most weight with the audience because they allowed each instrument to be heard in a quiet, natural state. In reflecting back after a long evening of music, I think that the Majestic’s small, old school venue did an excellent job of attributing to the evening’s vibe.