Home Live Review Live Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds w/ Garbage and Metric @ Merriweather Post Pavilion — 7/13/23

Live Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds w/ Garbage and Metric @ Merriweather Post Pavilion — 7/13/23

Live Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds w/ Garbage and Metric @ Merriweather Post Pavilion — 7/13/23
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion on July 13, 2023. (Photo by Kyle Gustafson)

Noel Gallagher is in a bit of a weird spot with his solo career in the USA.  He just released his fourth studio album under his High Flying Birds moniker to universal acclaim in the UK, with most outlets declaring Council Skies his best post-Oasis work. He’s eager to make his mark as a forward-thinking solo artist, ceding most of the ample Oasis nostalgia circuit to his brother Liam.

However, here in the States, he’s mostly “the guy from Oasis” to casual music fans and when they see him live, they want to sing along to “Champagne Supernova” and “Wonderwall.” But on his current tour, Noel doesn’t seem interested in that.

His show last Thursday at Merriweather Post Pavilion opened with five straight songs from Council Skies followed by two more High Flying Birds tunes before satisfying the masses with the Oasis b-sides classic “The Masterplan,” giving the audience their first big singalong opportunity. To his credit, this has been his MO on his last two US tours. He even explained his thinking the last time he played Merriweather, opening for the Smashing Pumpkins in 2019, when he said “The first half of the set is for me. The second half is for you.” 

While the new Council Skies tunes do mostly fall into the mid-tempo, strummy acoustic guitar category, it contains some of Noel’s best work in years, particularly the title track. Stealing a bit of the chorus from “The Ballad of the Mighty I” (talent borrows, genius steals from themselves), “Council Skies” strikes me as a new Gallagher classic and will likely feature in setlists for years to come. It’s definitely one of his best post-Oasis tunes. “We’re Gonna Get There in the End” is a fun rave up with horn accents and “Easy Now” is another in a very long line of incredible ballads that he can seemingly knock-out at will. It’s very easy to picture UK arenas shouting out the song’s “I’ll be there, I’ll wait for you, I swear” refrain.

Watch the official music video for “Council Skies” by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds on YouTube:

Noel’s mischievous sense of humor was in fine form. Before playing “Open The Door, See What You Find,” he declared, “This song is not ‘Supersonic’,” (the two songs share a very similar drum intro) but it seemed most of the audience missed the crucial word in that statement and were very excited and then very disappointed when they figured it out. Later in the set, he introduced 1997 b-side “Going Nowhere” by saying “Does anyone remember “Stand by Me?’” to a huge roar before saying, “Great, here is a b-side from that single.” I knew what song was coming and he even got me with that one!

More than few casual fans have grumbled about the lack of hits in the second half of the set, but it was pretty clear that Noel aimed that part of the set at his more hardcore fans, with three b-sides from the ’90s (!!!) sprinkled in between singles “Little by Little,” “Live Forever,”  “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” and a cover of Bob Dylans’ “The Mighty Quinn.” I am most definitely part of the hardcore audience that this part of the set was aimed at, but I also find it hard to complain about anything when you get to hear “Live forever” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” in the same night. “Live Forever” in particular sounded amazing, with a new acoustic arrangement featuring an ethereal solo from Noel’s secret weapon, guitarist Gem Archer.

Garbage was the co-headliner of this tour and their set wasn’t that different from their performance last year opening for Tears For Fears. They slayed, particularly their cover of Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Cities in Dust.” They honestly did a much better job of playing to serious and neutral fans alike by including all of their hits like “I Think I’m Paranoid,” “Stupid Girl,” “Push It,” and “I’m Only Happy When it Rains.” Shirley Manson continues to be the consummate frontperson, with an incredible ability to make it seem like she is singing specifically to each person in the audience.

Metric opened the show at the ungodly hour of 6:50 p.m. and put in a headliner-worthy performance, easily on par with both co-headliners. The band played a very efficient, all-killer-no filler set of nine songs that featured three singles from their excellent 2009 album, Fantasies, along with “All Comes Crashing,” the lead single from 2022’s Formentera. Late in the set, they played the Clash at Demonhead song “Black Sheep,” which was a real treat for those of us who fondly recall the Scott Pilgrim film. This band has it all, a killer frontperson, serious riffs, hooks for days, and an upbeat, danceable sound. Why aren’t they bigger? 

This remarkable tour may now be over, but catch Noel Gallagher on a world tour this year.

Here are some photos of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Garbage, and Metric performing at Merriweather Post Pavilion on July 13, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Kyle Gustafson.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds




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