The motto for a Noel Gallagher show in 2016 should be: come for the nostalgia, stay for the stage banter. The better half of Oasis’ Gallagher brethren closed out the Montreal International Jazz Festival on Saturday night, and Noel’s one of a kind whiplash-tongue and merciless wit were on full display. Playing in front of a near sold-out gathering of Oasis’ once powerful legion of fans, Noel Gallagher delivered one of the most crowd-pleasing shows of the festival.
Although his most recent albums have been mainly overlooked in North America, there’s no denying Noel Gallagher has a talent for writing addictive melodies. The desperation of “Everybody’s On The Run” started the night off with a string of High Flying Birds songs, highlighted by the groovy “In The Heat of the Moment” off last year’s Chasing Yesterdays. Splitting his 20-song set evenly between his Oasis and solo repertoire, Noel Gallagher is very aware of the power of his former band’s catalogue, and it was refreshing watching him breathe new life into songs only ever heard through Liam’s voice. The first real sing-along moment came with a folk-romp version of “Champagne Supernova”. The new arrangement didn’t deter the audience from stealing the chorus from the band, and was a glimpse into what Oasis could have sounded like if led solely by Noel.
During a break in applause, a brave/crazy fan shouted out “where’s Liam?”. This question may have put an end to some sets (try yelling “where’s Johnny?” at a Morrissey concert), but Noel, ever the comedian, took the opportunity to put down his enigmatic brother. “Who the fuck knows where Liam is? He’s probably sitting at home in his basement… on Twitter”. An even braver fan then dared to declare Liam a bigger rock star than Noel, only to have the older Gallagher brother shoot him down by saying “you’re just as much of a rock star as Liam is today”. Noting that studio drummer Jeremy Stacey was absent, another fan asked where Jeremy was. Baffled, Noel exclaimed “Jeremy? The old drummer? Who knows where he is, he probably took a better gig for more cash. Any more questions about the geographical whereabouts of anyone else? Do you do this to everyone? Can I carry on now?”.
Noel Gallagher’s setlist was heavy on Oasis b-sides, including the often forgotten but terrific “Talk Tonight”, “Half the World Away”, and “D’Yer Wanna Be a Spaceman?”. Other portions of the show were dedicated to bashing the “six guys in the front row with their hands in their jean pockets”, hipsters, and fans clapping out of time, all while he begged people to put their phones down and to not upload his rants to YouTube. The highlight of the main set was a stirring rendition of “The Masterplan”, arguably the greatest Oasis song.
Prior to the encore, Noel Gallagher and his bandmates were perplexed asking “where has the guy in the sixth-row who looks like Alice Cooper gone?”. After inquiring if this mysterious figure was famous or not (at one point believing the fan was a Canadian country singer), the Alice Cooper look-a-like was spotted near the right of the stage. Noel hushed the audience to ask the man if he was indeed famous, only to realize that he was familiar to him through “90’s porn films”, a claim the fan did not admit to or deny. After praising fake-Alice Cooper’s work, Gallagher got into the “song that pays for all of this shit”. “Wonderwall” through Noel’s voice sounded more earnest than fans were used to, and was met by a sea of cell phones grasping to film the moment. The grand finale came accompanied by serious 90’s flashbacks with “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. Euphoria loomed heavy in the air as everyone in the theatre got out of their seats to belt out the irresistible chorus, while tears flowed down the faces of the most dedicated. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds was a two-hour blast of positive energy and laughs, a memorable way to cap off another excellent edition of Montreal’s International Jazz Festival.