Live review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

NOEL GALLAGHER ... his High Flying Birds wowed the Metro Radio Arena.
NOEL GALLAGHER ... his High Flying Birds wowed the Metro Radio Arena.

LET the debate over who was the most important part of Oasis end, once and for all, here and now.

Yes, singer Liam Gallagher had the Manc swagger and attitude, but there’s no doubt big brother Noel was the brains behind the outfit.

He was the one who wrote all their classic songs, and the one who broke up the band which came to define Britpop after one argument too many.

After a few months on hiatus, both emerged with new groups, Liam with Beady Eye and Noel with High Flying Birds.

Both released debut albums last year, and while Beady Eye’s received a fairly lukewarm reception from the critics, NGHFB’s saw him nominated for a Brit Award.

Here, Noel took his band on the road, and the fact this was one of nine sold-out arena UK dates told its own story.

From the moment he took to the stage to a cover of the Oasis song (It’s Good) To Be Free, originally buried away as a B-side, it was clear The Chief was back in town.

Mucky Fingers, another cover of a song by his old band, followed, and that was that particular elephant - will he play any Oasis tunes? - out of the room.

Now it was down to business, and a salvo of songs from his solo debut followed; Everybody’s On The Run, Dream On and If I Had A Gun.

All were greeted like old favourites, despite the fact the album only came out in October, and, over the course of the night, all but one track (Oasis leftover Stop The Clocks) got an airing.

After half an hour the leather jacket came off and you knew he meant business; it certainly was, with a sublime acoustic version of Supersonic.

More Oasis songs followed in the 70-minute main set, namely Talk Tonight and the wonderful Half A World Away - to think he tossed these away as B-sides when you hear some of the dross clogging up the charts these days is incredible.

He proved he still knows how to write a classic with one of the songs of the night, AKA... What A Life from the High Flying Birds album.

As well as his excellent four-piece band, who were every bit the equal of Oasis (probably better, if truth be told), he was joined on stage at various stages of the night by a three-piece horn section and the Hertforshire Choir, conducted by a Geordie, David Temple.

The banter with the crowd was good too, with references to the Sports Direct Arena and urging fans to buy a T-shirt on their way out (“merchandise is where it’s at, innit?”).

The best was saved until last though, a four-song encore of Oasis classics - Whatever, Little By Little, The Importance of Being Idle and Don’t Look Back In Anger.

A rare outbreak of modesty probably prevented Noel agreeing with the fans down the front that he is a legend. “Haven’t you got to be dead?” he deadpanned. But he is. No question.