The crowd packed into the Beacon Theatre on a drizzly New York City night. Some milled around anxiously in the foyer, sipping overpriced pints of beer, talking about the impending show. Noel Gallagher
, more royal in Britain than Kate Middleton, was set to take the stage shortly. "I've been in the army in the U.K. for the past six years, and I just got out," said one accented bloke. "This is my treat to myself." That pretty much summed up the level of enthusiasm from the crowd.
But before Gallagher took the stage, the audience was treated to opening act The Hours
, performing songs off of their recent and quite good EP I Want More
. Sometimes, when opening for such a well known and beloved act, bands have a hard time matching that prowess and energy. The Hours most definitely did not encounter this problem. They played well, much to the satisfaction of all ears in attendance. They let their songs devolve into chaotic feedback with the band members attacking their instruments. The Hours managed to create an impressive wall of sound for just four guys. Their jangling guitars were a more than welcome sound for those anticipating the headliner.
After a brief intermission (and some more over-priced beer), Noel Gallagher took the stage, playing Oasis b-sides before going off into material from his recent solo album, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
. In between just about every song, Gallagher was changing guitars the way presidents change pens when signing bills. Before too long, Gallagher traded in a red Gibson for an acoustic guitar and led the crowd in a stripped down version of arguably one of the 1990s most anthemic songs, "Wonderwall," accompanied only by some light piano work. The next treat he offered up was an acoustic take on "Supersonic," giving the song a snarl with the way he delivered his lines.
Not known for being stingy with his words, it was surprising that Gallagher only addressed the audience a few times. When he did, he was witty with audience members and giving shout outs to the Brits in attendance. "Who here is from England?" he yelled, and at times, it was hard to remember if you were in New York or London with everyone around yelling out requests in British accents. When he introduced his band mates, he simply pointed to the lead guitarist and said "Oh yeah, he's the American," which was met with a few cheers but mainly jeers.
But with his joking aside, Gallagher and his band made an hour and fifteen minute set seem like mere minutes with the level of their musicianship. After the main set came to a close, Gallagher disappeared for a few short moments before returning for an Oasis-packed three song encore. The last song of the night, "Don't Look Back In Anger," was by far the highlight. When the chorus hit, Gallagher back away from the mic to let the crowd sing. They seized the opportunity, almost drowning out the band as they belted the notes out while standing on the theater's chairs. By the end of the song, the message from Noel Gallagher was clear: he came, he saw, he rocked.