Following the release of last year’s High-Flying Birds greatest hits album ‘Back The Way We Came: Vol 1 (2011-2021)’, and ahead of a solo album release later this year, Noel Gallagher announced a full band tour that covered some of the lesser-visited locations in the UK, such as Cornwall and Colwyn Bay.
While a show in Newcastle may not seem out of place for Noel Gallagher, the event itself was at a venue unlike any other. Held inside a touring circus tent, Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus combines music with 30 circus-themed entertainers underneath a massive big top.
In support were fellow 90s icons The Charlatans, as well as Confidence Man and Andrew Cushin. Following each act, the crowd inside the tent were kept entertained by trapeze artists, fire-eaters, and much more.
It’s A Beautiful World
However, eventually, the time came for the main event to start. Noel Gallagher and the band came out to a thunderous reception and took their place on a stage which included a now customary Manchester City flag.
First up was a fitting set opener of ‘Fort Knox’ with its building frenzy of instruments and a chant of “Hey Hey Hey”. More tracks from the 2017 album ‘Who Built The Moon?’ then followed. This included the rocking riffs of ‘Holy Mountain’ and the soulful ‘Keep On Reaching’. Then were some examples of Noel’s sonic experimentation with ‘It’s A Beautiful World’ and ‘She Taught Me How To Fly’.
We’re On Our Way Now
On a night of nostalgia, the band also recently visited some of their relatively recent material with ‘Wandering Star’ and ‘Rattling Rose’. Then there was the moody 2021 single ‘We’re On Our Way Now’ which starred Matt Smith in its music video.
Up next was a switch in both mood and genre. The disco-infused ‘Black Star Dancing’ became one of the first dance along tracks of the night. Following this was ‘Who Built The Moon?’ bonus track ‘Dead in the Water’. The reflective acoustic track was a highlight from this section of the set, and it stirred the hardiest of souls.
Little By Little
The atmosphere was noticeably turned up by several notches when the opening chords to ‘Little by Little’ rang out. Soon the mass of the crowd joined Noel in singing the first of his old band’s classics they were to hear.
The High-Flying Birds material certainly received a warm reception. However, it became clear that the majority of those present were now getting what they came for. Up next was a reminder that Oasis weren’t just a 90s Britpop flash in the pan with ‘The Importance of Being Idle’. The 2005 track was their last UK number 1 single.
Afterwards was a prime example of the influence The Beatles had on Noel Gallagher with standalone single ‘Whatever’. The band demonstrated the elaborate instrumentation of the single and enthralled those in the crowd as the sound whirled around the tent.
The band stripped the instrumentation back to acoustic roots. Then, Noel strummed through perhaps the most universally recognisable four chords in pop history. Usually, people remember ‘Wonderwall’ as a Liam track. But it was perhaps even more moving to hear it in its original form as performed by its writer. If the crowd hadn’t already been enchanted while singing along, Noel now truly had them in his clutches.
The tent’s levels of emotional instability were at boiling point but soon reached a fever pitch. Firstly with one of the country’s most beloved B sides – ‘Half The World Away’. Immediately following this was the tearjerker ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’. You could feel the energy of thousands of arms aloft and held around others in a moment of reflection.
Don’t Look Back in Anger
For the encore, the energy built up again with the instantly recognisable ‘If I Had A Gun…’ and ‘AKA… What A Life!’, both from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ debut album. But only one song remained that could fittingly close out the night. ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ is probably the track that Noel Gallagher is most remembered for. The 90s masterpiece can still launch the biggest of tents to the smallest of pubs into a mass sing-along.
For these last few minutes at least, Newcastle placed their lives in the hands of a rock and roll band who did indeed throw it all away.
It would be easy to try to compare the triumphant return to Knebworth by Liam against this run of shows from Noel. But for now, all we can do is enjoy each of the brothers for their resolute abilities to carry on the legend. Fans will continue to keenly await the day that the Gallaghers set aside their differences.