Review: Noel Gallagher at Manchester Arena

Manchester Arena was always going to be a tough gig for Noel Gallagher. 

Almost a year after the bomb attack on the venue we find ourselves in – a time when one of the former Oasis band leader’s songs became an accidental focal point for the city’s pain and attempts at emotional rebuilding – the overriding sense is one of a need to move one.

That maybe explains Gallagher’s decision to rattle through the first five tracks – the majority from his latest album – without a single word. Gallagher Snr carried a fair amount of the weight of the arena’s reopening gig – tonight is all about his body of work as a musician rather than a figurehead.

And on those terms, he has very few others to answer to.

The Chief has got the tunes. Fort Knox is a storming scene setter. French vocalist Y-See is a formidable counterpoint to Gallagher’s melodic sensibilities.

Holy Mountain gets a gleeful arena bouncing and not long after A Beautiful World displays Noel’s pysch-rock credentials with a laser show unimaginable in his Oasis days. The odd sound problem creates an uneasy glitch here and there.

A dip into some of his earlier solo tracks peaks with If I Had A Gun – has he written many finer? ‘Excuse me if I spoke too soon, my eyes have always followed you around the room’ still feels deeply personal to most of the 15,000 or so people here.

Mid-set is when Noel tugs on the past.

“Any Oasis fans here?” he asks, to huge cheers. Of course there are, judging by the ‘coats and haircuts.’

Some might say he still bears the same hallmarks of the band he walked out of nearly 20 years ago.

Little By Little and The Importance of Being Idle are measured choices as Noel straps the acoustic guitar on.

Dead In The Water is a superb track on record but needs a more intimate space than the hulking arena.

A couple of middling album tracks before Half A World Away puts Noel and the crowd back on track. Then Wonderwall.

I was 17 when I first heard the opening chords to Supersonic. I saw Noel demo Wonderwall on telly as part of the BBC’s wonderfully shambolic Glastonbury 1995 coverage a year later. It is still as special now as it was then.

Noel Gallagher – it should be remembered – is one of the greatest songwriters this country has ever produced. And this tune will always prove it.

That said, a self indulgent Right Stuff starts the encore followed by Go Let It Out, only a decent Oasis track even at full pelt with L**m involved.

And so on to Don’t Look Back In Anger. Emotional. Necessary. Jubilant. Reflective. Significant. Every voice in the arena is at full tilt.

Manchester’s unofficial anthem winds into The Beatles’ All You Need is Love. Huge balloons fall from the ceiling.

In terms of chat, it was restricted to the usual ‘City are great, Utd are c***s, and so are most of my Scouse bandmates.’ There was no big speech about Manchester or the year the was. How could you ever try and absorb that?

Noel has nothing left to prove. The city needed his song at a difficult time. Tonight he came home and made it all about the music again. He’s still an immense talent and Manchester revelled in that for most of his hour and three quarters set.

A definite hit – and a talent that will always belong to Manchester.

 

Source: Manchester Evening News