Review: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds at Summer In The City

Ben Smith witnessed a Manchester spectacle on Saturday night with Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds in peak form.

Ben Smith

Last updated: 11th Aug 2015

Image: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds at Castlefield Bowl

There was something strictly Manchester in the air at Castlefield Bowl on Friday night; for starters it of course rained at a gig dubbed 'Summer In The City', Noel Gallagher led an an awe inspiring performance and it was also actually in, wait for it, Manchester.

"Fucking hell, have you lot calmed down yet? I hope T In The Park is like this tomorrow night" exclaimed Noel after a rendition of 'In The Heat Of The Moment' followed by a cover of 'Fade Away'. 

That alone should probably paint a picture of the scenes provoked by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds playing within the relatively intimate confines of a small amphitheatre situated beside a Manchester canal. After all, Johnny Marr had already jacked up the Manc crowd on covers of The Smiths, various solo material and a crack of The Clash's anarchic number 'I Fought The Law'.


Musically, this review should probably write itself; although it's essential to ponder over what was witnessed from Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and shun the small talk of an Oasis' reunion. We'd probably love nothing more, but on this showing it's likely that Noel will occupy the Glastonbury headline slot with his current set up - his showmanship and unparalleled song-writing skills ultimately deserve that. 

Beginning with '(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach' followed by 'Everybody's On The Run', a leather jacket clad Noel Gallagher looking effortlessly cool with his noble blood red Gibson guitar swayed into a number of cuts from Chasing Yesterday including defining single 'Ballad Of The Mighty I'It's an album title he devised while allegedly still half pissed one morning, an unsurprising revelation for a man who could probably write an album as good as anyones while stupidly pissed; it's just what he does. 

Carrying the blueprint of his self-titled debut, Chasing Yesterday is instilled with the anthemic underlay of its predecessor, and some slightly uncharacteristic curve-balls in 'The Mexican' and 'Riverman'. Both provided highlights; the jazzy solos in 'Riverman' were executed by a live band and the crowd responded rapturously to the sleazy saloon like riff running through 'The Mexican'. 

A notable gathering of revellers looked on from surrounding balconies, usually you'd be incensed, but they were evidently secondary and secluded from the momentous occasion initialised by songs like 'Champagne Supernova' and 'If I Had A Gun'. It was all in from the start, no songbooks required; a purely good and proper gig that will undoubtedly live long in the memory for all involved. 

The all defining encore was simply sensational, 'The Masterplan' triumphantly shimmered and 'AKA...What A Life' saw the contents of whatever alcohol remained poured over your neighbours head.  'Don't Look Back In Anger' paradoxically sparked the crowd to do the complete opposite and look back in complete wonderment and elation when streaming out of the venue. It was a truly special Manchester homecoming for Noel Gallagher and his not so native High Flying Birds. 

Read:'Five Must See Acts at Latitude' (NGHFB headline the Sunday night)