Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds @ Place Des Arts – 18th February 2018

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Noel Gallagher Place Des Arts

There seem to be a certain paradox that goes around in the world of live music, one where a band that wants to tour less than 3 years after their last tour in the same region and locations where they previously sold out show after show does not know if they will be able to do the same.

Bands such as Metallica, Slipknot and event King Crimson seem to pull it successfully time after time thanks to their loyal fans, but as the “Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds” show at PDA on Sunday, February 18th showed it can also be a complete bust.

The venue, which was filled to the brim during his last visit to the city for the Jazz Festival of 2016, was less than one-third full this time. His most hardcore fans lined up since 7 pm to witness the former Oasis songwriter/brother/guitarist, and from the looks of it and the long wait outside it would have seemed that the show was going to be huge.

Once seated, the wait extended a bit more given the people still waiting to enter the theatre. From my seat, I could see a huge scenario setup to impress and accommodate the 10 musicians that made up the High Flying Birds, including the French (lead) scissors player Charlotte Marionneau. A big central screen, which would later project all the visuals that accompanied each song, was meant to be the central focus in the dimly lit scenario.

A big mixed sound, of what seemed like whistles, birds and other miscellaneous noises, started as soon as the lights were dimmed. In crescendo, bright lights and spotlights staring lighting up and soon each member of the band started appearing, starting with Noel himself

The band opened up with “Fort Knox”, a cinematic song from their newest album. Their second song, “Holy Mountain” could have been easily mistaken for an unheard Beach Boys song, joyful and uplifting.

Song after song came accompanied by a wonderful projection and a change of guitar for Noel, and at some point, people got overly excited about an acoustic guitar, maybe anticipating Wonderwall or any of the other Oasis classics.

It was only during the 4th song, “It’s a Beautiful World”, that people started to sing and move more. The first nine songs were from the High Flying Birds project and many spectators grew impatient by the 7th song or so due to, I infer, wanting to listen to covers of a past long gone.

You could hear some people complaining about the show itself and some even leaving after only 5 songs. It might have been due to the expectations of people thinking they were here to see Oasis not being met or maybe it was the show itself. For me, the sound and mise-en-scène were quite overwhelming and a bit off, too loud and stroboscopic for the venue and the size of the crowd that came to enjoy the show.

The overwhelming feeling got punctured once in a while when Noel took the mic and addressed the crowd, presenting the band, talking to us and being thankful for being in Montreal again.

At one point he spoke to a woman from the first couple of rows. She had come all the way from NYC even though the band had just played there only a few days before. When Noel questioned her choice she said she preferred coming here. He later addressed a couple of Argentinians who were holding up a big flag, he voiced out how Argentina was one of his favorite places in the world and that he loved the country and the people over there.

Finally, the moment many were waiting for, the time for the first Oasis cover. He briefly asked “Are there any Oasis fans left in this town?”, everyone yelled and clapped and he started the chords of “Little by little”.

In total, he performed 6 Oasis covers but only one or two were played in the original manner. They were truly covers, changing the rhythm, the melody and forcing everyone to catch up and figure out what and how the hell we were supposed to sing along.

In conclusion, the show was OK, somewhat underwhelming and leaving the sensation that it could have been better or it could have entertained a bit more and let everyone have their Oasis moments predictable and intact. Or at the very least he should have given the scissor player a solo.

Setlist:
Fort Knox
Holy Mountain
Keep on Reaching
It’s a Beautiful World
In the Heat of the Moment
Riverman
Ballad of the Mighty I
If I Had a Gun…
Dream On
Little by Little
(Oasis cover)
The Importance of Being Idle
(Oasis cover)
Dead in the Water
Be Careful What You Wish For
Black & White Sunshine
Half the World Away
(Oasis cover)
She Taught Me How to Fly
Wonderwall
(Oasis cover)
AKA… What a Life!
Encore:
Let the Lord Shine a Light on Me
(First time live since 2012)
Go Let It Out
(Oasis cover)
Don’t Look Back in Anger
(Oasis cover)
All You Need Is Love

Review – Ricardo P Flores

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