Enjoying his freedom
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Live At The SECC, Glasgow

Noel Gallagher returns to the SECC stage for his second night in Glasgow, with his High Flying Birds in tow and support provided from Reverend And The Makers.

Exuding confidence on stage, and a face full of genuine enjoyment, he looks like a man who has had a large weight lifted from his shoulders. No longer having to deal with the band politics of Oasis, a diplomatic nightmare which makes Israel and Palestine pale in comparison, he clearly enjoys his new freedom. Maybe this also shows a sign of Noel not commonly seen, a possible insecurity about his first solo endeavour put to bed with the success in the charts of the album which debuted at number one in the charts late last year.

Beginning with ‘(It’s Good) To Be Free’, from B-sides collection ‘The Masterplan’, and then ‘Mucky Fingers’, from 2005 album ‘Don’t Believe The Truth’ is a bold move. Both songs were rarely played live by Oasis, and the former is sung by Liam on the original version. It pays off though, allowing the crowd an opportunity hear songs that Oasis seldom played live, while at the same time, not relying on all of the obvious tunes to fatten out a one album set list.

Noel and his High Flying Birds, featuring Zuton Russel Pritchard on bass, are joined on stage by the Hertfordshire Chorus choir and a brass section to help recreate the sound of the High Flying Birds’ album. This adds another dimension to the sound on the tracks they feature on, and you are left thinking what might have been had they appeared on the last Oasis tour.

The songs from Noel’s new album translate well to a live gig but the sound is slightly impaired by the usual dreadful SECC acoustics. A particular highlight is single ‘AKA… What A Life’ which is one of the few new tracks in the set list that is a crowd- mover akin to his former band’s back catalogue. An acoustic version of Oasis’ debut single ‘Supersonic’, accompanied solely by a keyboard player is a standout track and Noel barely needs to sing any of the words, the crowd take care of that.

The gig closes with an encore comprised of four Oasis songs, ‘Whatever’, ‘Little By Little’, ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’ and finally a soaring version of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ which, as usual, the crowd belts out with gusto. Noel Gallagher is a man not known for insecurity or modesty, but he seems surprised that the crowd sings along with every word, as if expecting that somehow these people could have forgotten about songs that have defined their life for so many years.

The lack of a High Flying Birds song from the encore is an acknowledgment that Gallagher’s new output does not yet match the quality of Oasis’ finest moments. But also shows that he has moved away from the kind of anthems that had become tiresome and predictable. The crowd piles out at the end, glad that Mr Gallagher is back in their lives, satisfied enough to not pour scorn on the One Direction fans camping outside for tickets on sale the next morning.

Words by Stephen Walsh

Follow Clash: