Last Saturday, Manchester’s own Noel Gallagher made his way through Houston with his band — no, not that band — to play a show at the House of Blues with the High Flying Birds, the group he’s been with since 2010 as apart of his “Stranded on Earth” tour. I wasn’t born in time to catch an actual Oasis show — and up until last night had not seen a solo Gallagher show either — so it goes without saying I was thrilled when I found out I would be covering the show. Last year saw the release of the band’s third studio album, Who Built the Moon?, which was released the month following his brother’s debut solo record, As You Were. And to be quite frank, the latter appealed to me more, perhaps because it more so stayed true of the Britpop sound that landed Oasis on top of the world for a good moment in the ’90s. The thing that I couldn’t get over about WBTM? was how different and experimental it was coming from the guitarist of the “other” band. However, his previous two HFB records have also strayed from the path, so I guess it is not that much of a surprise that this record came from a sonically different angle. Regardless, it was about time I got to see a Gallagher, even if that meant getting to the House of Blues earlier than most shows require (the band took the stage at 8:15 pm sharp, no opener).
The band walked out following the namesake member, and a many they did come: a drummer, keyboardist — two, I think — guitarist, bassist, trumpeter, trombonist, saxophonist, backup vocalist, and the controversial scissors-player. The group kicked off the set with WBTM’s “Fort Knox,” which the crowd surprisingly seemed to know pretty well. Actually, I’ll go ahead and say a large portion of the crowd knew the solo material quite well. Also, before I forget to mention it, I made a note in my phone to notate the sheer plethora of British people at the show; I can honestly say I’ve never been with so many Brits at the same place here in Houston. Anyway, the next four tracks all came from the latest material until it came time for Chasing Yesterday’s “Riverman” to be played.
Later on in the set, song 10 to be exact, the first Oasis cover would appear: in this case the lesser-known “Little by Little.” But it was certainly not unknown to a large portion of the crowd, as they continued belting back the words to Noel and co. A few more Oasis tracks followed by solo material passed. The moment had finally come. The strumming started, and the crowd went mega. The international karaoke track started up. You know what song I’m talking about, so there’s no need to even mention it. It was cool to see the man that wrote this song play this song in front of my eyes rather than Nick Carter or that one guy that was busking in the subway when I was in Los Angeles.
Soon after, the High Flying Birds left the stage before reemerging for a lengthy encore which consisted half of Oasis covers “Go Let It Out” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” The second one was a sight/sound to experience; practically everyone was screaming back with the same emotion as the groups in Manchester did after the horrific attack that took place in the city last year. This song certainly means a lot to a lot of people. And to conclude the evening, the band did a salute before busting into the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love,” which came as no surprise, considering the Liverpool group was notably one of the biggest influences on the Gallagher brothers.
After all was said and done, I can honestly say this show was even better than I was anticipating. The large backing band made the songs more “full” sounding, even though we’ve heard some of them with gritty guitars and a nasally wail. Side note: The friend I was with asked me if I think it hurts Noel to sing the Oasis tracks in the style of his brother (in terms of a mental pain, that is). As cool as it would be to see both Gallagher’s at the same show, with the same band (and I still believe it will happen sooner than later), a High Flying Birds show is a good way to hold out, though this work is certainly worth delving into.