Noel Gallagher, 56 years old, is like an old friend who, even if you haven’t seen him in a while or lost touch for a period, never betrays and understands what you need. In Italy, with a full live performance, he hadn’t been around since 2019. In the end, immersing oneself in his words and melodies means, for more than one generation, feeling somehow at home. Especially today when music, in terms of rhythms and sounds, sometimes seems crazy and indecipherable, letting oneself go into the waves of former Oasis songs provides peace and a comforting feeling.
From San Siro to Guardiola’s cardboard cutout
Noel, just like a drinking buddy at the pub, you can catch him at the stadium, in a hoodie and jeans, watching Milan-PSG, greeting the Rossoneri fans with a “hello, I’m Rod Stewart,” and then, change scene, in the role of a musician and singer-songwriter with a denim jacket on the stage of the Milan Forum, alongside his seasoned High Flying Birds, breaking the hearts of thousands of fans with “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” a mid-’90s song that has become over time a sort of planetary anthem playing with eternity. It was Oasis’ first single in which Noel replaced his brother Liam as the lead vocalist, another lifelong friend for rock lovers, but more caustic and hot-headed. The fairy tale of seeing them together is always necessary to make us believe that we haven’t become adults in some way. But in the meantime, the two continue to quarrel from a distance: “Liam, without Oasis, doesn’t exist,” he announced just before coming to Italy.
Noel kicks off with tracks from “Council Skies,” his latest solo project released this summer, although it’s not exactly “solo.” It is, in fact, the most collaborative and “live in studio” work of his career, one of the best post-Oasis albums, where the High Flying Birds truly take on the role of a band, and there’s a crafted sound that enhances the writing. Lyrics that talk about dreams and rebirths, which is why he is surrounded by many different colorful flowers on stage. There’s also a life-size cardboard cutout of Guardiola: the manager of Manchester City, whom Noel is a big fan of, observing everything.
The new album
Noel has set aside the unique arrangements of “Who Built the Moon” from 2017 and returned to what he has always done best: classic songs with a ’90s retro flavor that come alive on stage. “Pretty Boy,” with that Cure-like taste (remixed by Robert Smith), “Council Skies,” telling the story of a shooting star to capture for toasting to better days, “Open the Door, See What You Find,” “We’re Gonna Get There in the End,” and “Easy Now” emerge with a calm strength in the first part of the concert. All the songs from the new album were written during lockdown. But “Council Skies” is not a “lockdown album”: the songs exude an intimate and melancholic yet never faded atmosphere, and many pieces, especially “Easy Now,” have liberating choruses. With “You Know We Can’t Go Back” and “In the Heat of the Moment,” we’re back to 2015’s “Chasing Yesterday,” while with “If I Had a Gun,” we travel back to 2011, although the song was written a few years earlier during the Oasis tour to promote the album “Dig Out Your Soul.” Among the most significant and emotional tracks in this first part is “Dead in the Water,” performed with just a guitar and voice: a piece reminiscent of Oasis, the only one from “Who Built the Moon.”
Oasis and Inter
It’s a temporal roller coaster that leads to the second part of the live performance, undoubtedly the most anticipated, even if shorter, where we dive into the Oasis repertoire. Seven songs, experienced and sung as collective rituals between the present and the past, with “The Masterplan” and “Little by Little” greeted with cheers. All leading to the musical miracle finale of “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” dedicated “to all Inter fans” (and here Noel gets some boos, the Gallagher brothers like to play with the football loyalties of fans) and then sung so loudly by the audience that it almost covers the voice of the Manchester artist. Before this fireworks display, there’s also time for a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn),” released in the second half of the ’60s, telling the story of Quinn the Eskimo’s arrival in town, able to turn suffering into joy and peace. With these last beautiful pieces, Noel brings out words that have become over time stadium chants, the ones you need when the wounds don’t seem to heal. They are just like the consoling and vivid words, never paternal, of a friend who is always there. Despite the passing of time, he’s always there for us.
Article by Claudio Cabona (credits to Rockol.it)
Pictures by Mathias Marchioni