BEING THERE: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

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Photo by RORY MCGLASSON

During the start of the sold-out Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds concert at the Merriam Theatre last night, a brazen (and presumably drunken) heckler asked Noel of the whereabouts of his younger brother, the ex-Oasis frontman. “Where’s Liam? the man screamed. With two hands on the left side of his chest, Gallagher said, “He’s probably sitting down somewhere at home doing absolutely fuck all.” The crowd — a mix of soccer-loving Manchester City-clad ex-pats, and diehard Noel devotees from Malaysia, Germany, and Jersey — cheered his response. These are Noel’s fans. They absolutely adore him, as well as his current High Flying Birds lineup – guitarist Tim Smith, bassist Russell Pritchard, drummer Jeremy Stacey and keyboardist Mike Rowe. NGHFB’s were in town promoting the new “Chasing Yesterday” record. Noel kicked off his 20-song set with “Do The Damage” — introducing us to a three-piece horn section, who played on almost half the songs of the set, with the “The Mexican” being the standout of the night. The best of Gallagher’s new work, “You Know We Can’t Go Back” and “Dream On” feature the Beatles-y-Kinks-y Britpop zest we’ve come to expect from Noel. When the former Oasis guiatrist and songwriter drew from the the Oasis back catalog, he chose a nostalgic, rock-y take on “Digsy’s Diner” a tighter version of “Champagne Supernova” — dedicating it to Phil Collins — and the much-loved Oasis B-side/fan-favorite, “Whatever.” Earlier this week, Gallagher said there’s little chance he would reform the defunct Oasis, unless, Paul McCartney wrote a song for him. Truth is, Noel Gallagher doesn’t need McCartney to write his songs. Noel doesn’t need his brother Liam to sing them, either. That was yesterday, back when love was such an easy game to play. — RORY MCGLASSON