1. It’s Good To Be Free
2. Talk Tonight
3. The Death Of You And Me
4. If I Had A Gun
5. Do You Wanna Be A Spaceman
6. Listen Up
7. Sad Song
8. The Importance of Being Idle
9. Cast No Shadow
10. Half The World Away
11. Slide Away
13. AKA… What A Life
14. Don’t Look Back In Anger
It’s not common to see an artist of Noel Gallagher’s stature in such a small venue. He may be seen at times to be divisive and opinionated, but whether you like him as a person or not, it’s hard to argue against his contribution to the music industry over the last two decades. His successes were never more apparent than tonight’s career-spanning setlist featuring new stripped-down twists on many familiar songs.
In terms of importance, doing a gig like this for BBC Radio 2 is about as big as it gets for most artists. Today Noel has performed a sound check during the Ken Bruce show in the morning (actually just a performance) and was then interviewee during the Simon Mayo drive-time show. The main event was an hour-long performance for Jo Whiley at 8pm, delivered in the intimate 400-capacity BBC Radio Theatre venue but beamed to millions around the world. So that’s three shows with very different demographics, plus the additional buzz for the last week or so on every show on the most popular radio station in Britain, plus coverage on the Red Button on any BBC TV channel.
Whilst Noel Gallagher doesn’t really need to do this now – he’s popular enough that his name will sell enough albums and tickets to turn a profit for everything he does – it’s impeccable timing with all those husbands’ and dads’ stockings to fill and a tour with a smattering of tickets left. It’s never a bad thing to remind everyone how good your tunes are. And that is exactly what he does.
The audience would have been forgiven for expecting stripped down versions of songs from his latest record. His second album Chasing Yesterday, released earlier this year, silenced anyone who was suggesting his debut was only good because he’s been saving songs from Oasis albums throughout their career. It was arguably better than that excellent debut album. However, Chasing Yesterday was conspicuous by its complete absence from the set tonight.
Indeed, prior to the gig my brother and I had joked about what songs he was going to play. Whatever we said, we didn’t honestly think we’d get six Oasis b-sides, two Oasis album tracks, three huge Oasis singles and just three High Flying Birds tracks (all from the first album). By the time Sad Song was being played, we genuinely wondered whether the suggestion that he’d play Little James as the encore seemed a little less unlikely.
With each track completely stripped down to suit the setting and played by a tightly rehearsed band, the songs have rarely sounded this good. This time 10000+ fans weren’t going to be singing every line back to him and with it being transmitted around the globe, precision was key.
So if the goal wasn’t to promote the new album but rather remind the world exactly just how good his back catalogue was, then this was the perfect night for Noel. Topped off with some great banter with the audience (Stoke and John Lewis were on the receiving end of some sharp quips) and a well-behaved crowd (sadly a rarity for Oasis-related gigs), it couldn’t have gone better. The audience left in disbelief that they’d seen so many songs they never thought they’d see live, all the more special when seen in such an intimate setting.
An excellent performance. Well done sir.