You can always tell when a Noel Gallagher record is doing the rounds.
NME’s website is chock-full of ‘stories’ hung on individual quotes from an interview done weeks ago, comment sections are brimming with “hasn’t released anything good since ‘What’s The Story’” and one of music’s fiercest tongues is busy lashing anybody within hearing distance.
Somewhere in the middle of it all tends to lie a bit of music – the chart topping “Chasing Yesterday” in this case; backed by a tour – a sell out arena one in this case.
I watched one of Noel’s first solo gigs, back in 2011 at the Apollo. The awkwardness was tangible. Content for almost two decades to orchestrate proceedings from the wings while his brother’s ego bathed in the adulation, he was thrust into the spotlight, asked to play the unfamiliar role of frontman. On Monday night at Manchester Arena, he showed it is a role he is becoming increasingly familiar with – minus tambourines on heads.
A master of the B-side, “Do The Damage” is given the job of opener backed up by “(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach” and “Everybody’s On The Run” – the latter eliciting the kind of mass sing-along you’d expect from an Oasis gig.
Indeed, Oasis classic “Fade Away” does get the same treatment and some, the entire arena matching Noel word for word (everybody that is except the young couple next to me who judging from their expressions throughout must be huge Liam fans). The guy even nipped out during “Champagne Supernova”. Topless barmaids giving out free beer wouldn’t have had me budging from my spot at that point...at least not until after the solo.
The 20-song setlist is split evenly between Noel’s solo records and Oasis, “In The Heat Of The Moment” the first track from his latest record to get an airing, and one that live really jumps up a notch. It’s quickly followed by the thundering Definitely Maybe-era cast off “Lock All The Doors” and “Riverman”.
As news of Man United’s 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Arsenal filtered through, a gleeful Noel dedicated “Dream On” to the United squad, following it up with the excellent “The Dying of the Light”.
“If I had a Gun” comes sandwiched in between “Digsy’s Dinner” and “AKA What A Life”, proof that even nearly two decades on, Gallagher can still pen a belting stomper.
If the chorus of encore curtain raiser “Don’t Look Back In Anger” doesn’t have every single one of your hairs stood on end you’ve either got no hair or you’re deaf.
And so “how do you top that?” asks Noel. Johnny Marr, that’s how. The former Smiths guitarist brought out to lend a live hand on his and Noel’s “Ballad Of The Mighty I” collaboration.
How do you top that? Not sure you can but “The Masterplan” comes pretty darn close.
Should Oasis reform? God yes. Should it be before another Noel Gallagher record? Definitely not.