LIVE REVIEW: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Belfast SSE Arena, 9th May

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Rock icon Noel Gallagher has been a frequent visitor to Belfast over the past few years, not only from playing live but from spending a wealth of time in Belfast recording his experimental third solo album Who Built the Moon? in secret with Northern Irish producer and composer David Holmes ( who was also in attendance at the SSE Arena).

Kicking off with the set with the albums mostly instrumental opener Fort Knox. The beginning of the show was top heavy with songs from the new record and Noels previous two solo albums including the up-tempo singles Holy Mountain, Keep on Reaching, and It’s A Beautiful World. Noel’s voice sounded great, and his band was in top form. While the album Who Built the Moon? Has received mixed reviews, the songs received a positive response from the adoring Belfast crowd, comprised up of fans from back in the day, and younger fans that have grown up listening to Oasis through their parents’ record players.

Noel Gallagher speaks to the crowd 8 songs in, at last, and asks “what about ye Belfast? Before launching into a rousing rendition of the Oasis classic Little By Little, followed by Dream On, and The Importance Of Being Idle – 3 songs that provided us with the first proper sing-along moments of the evening. The High Flying Birds then swiftly vacated the stage, leaving Noel Gallagher alone and armed only with an acoustic guitar, to perform an emotional version of Dead In The Water – the last track on the new album, and one that has quickly become a fan favourite.

Owing to the experimental nature of the recent record, it takes a mass of musicians to pull the songs off live. Aside from bassist Russ Pritchard, former Oasis members Chris Sharrock on drums, and Gem Archer playing lead guitar, Noel was joined on stage by keyboard players, a horn section, backing singers, and the now legendary scissor player Charlotte Marionneau, who was awarded the loudest cheers when Noel introduced the band three quarters of the way through the set. The scissors finally appeared for She Taught Me How To Fly, which, if we listened hard enough, we could hear over the booming PA.

No matter how long Noel Gallagher continues as a solo act, it will always be the Oasis songs that the majority of his fans will come to hear, proven when everyone was upstanding for the heart-warming favourite Half The World Away, and the beautiful Ryan Adams arrangement of Wonderwall which Noel has adapted for himself.

After a short break, Noel Gallagher and his band returned to the stage for a four-song encore. Which included the psychedelic The Right Stuff, Oasis favourite Go Let It Out, and live staple Don’t Look Back in Anger – a song so ingrained in popular culture that I don’t think Noel would have made it out of the SSE Arena alive if he hadn’t played it. The atmosphere from the crowd during the song was incredible as expected. After promising to return to Belfast soon and saying his goodbyes, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds ended their extensive set with a triumphant version of The Beatles classic All You Need Is Love, that had everyone singing along throughout the SSE Arena and well into the Belfast night.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Belfast SSE Arena, 9th May – Setlist:

Fort Knox

Holy Mountain

Keep on Reaching

It’s a Beautiful World

In the Heat of the Moment

Riverman

Ballad of the Mighty I

If I Had a Gun…

Dream On

Little by Little
(Oasis cover)

The Importance of Being Idle
(Oasis cover)

If Love Is the Law

Dead in the Water

Be Careful What You Wish For

She Taught Me How to Fly

Half the World Away
(Oasis cover)

Wonderwall
(Oasis cover)

AKA… What a Life!

Encore:

The Right Stuff

Go Let It Out
(Oasis cover)

Don’t Look Back in Anger
(Oasis cover)

All You Need Is Love
(The Beatles cover)

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