Embracing a richer and far more interesting sound palette than his brother Liam’s safe solo output, Noel Gallagher’s Edinburgh return presented a compelling study in nudging your fanbase in new, experimental directions while at the same time treating them to just enough Oasis material to keep them singing into the night. Featuring arty French musician Charlotte Marionneau on the scissors, and - briefly - a trio of Sixties-style female backing singers, High Flying Birds projected the collective swagger of a genuine band rather than simply being Gallagher’s hired guns.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Edinburgh Playhouse ****
Sparse, panoramic opener Fort Knox eschewed a big chorus for a relentless wall of sound - a juggernaut of distortion kept familiar only by Gallagher’s minimal vocal. The glam stomp of Holy Mountain followed, replete with lusty horns and keening female voices rising above the frontman’s rat-a-tat delivery.
Current single Black Star Dancing was a delightful departure, groove-borne disco as if performed by The Who, with bold shades of David Bowie and even Queen. Rather more nondescript, the brand new track Rattling Rose was introduced as a B-side and made little impact, before Gallagher dredged up Talk Tonight from the Oasis catalogue - simple yet poignant.
The shift into mid-tempo chart toppers was smoothly done, with the martial beat pomp of The Importance of Being Idle filling the theatre, even if Little By Little felt a tad perfunctory. The melodic If I Had A Gun might as well be an Oasis track, and the short order arrival of The Masterplan, Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back In Anger delivered the finale everyone wanted to hear. - Jay Richardson