Thursday, May 21, 2015

Live Goods: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds at The Orpheum Theatre

Time flies huh? Literally, we saw Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds in Downtown, Los Angeles last night nearly four years after seeing him on his inaugural solo tour in 2011. That show was over at UCLA's Royce Hall. Noel's second solo offering Chasing Yesterday has been doing quite well for itself on the sales chart and Mr. Gallagher is in the midst of a world tour. Heading downtown on a Wednesday night was not an exciting prospect but we met up with some friends at The Golden Gopher right off of Broadway and near the newly reopened Ace Hotel and Theatre along with The Orpheum. There were another couple theatres on the same street, The Rialto is now an Urban Outfitters while the others are closed up. I wonder what it was like back in the days when the stages were a bustling. You've heard me talk about Downtown before, while it's nice to see a renaissance happening, the place still looks like it's living in The Terminator's 1984, grungy, dirty, vagrant filled world.

After several dranks and some slices of pizza, we sauntered over to the theatre which was surprisingly not that busy outside. I grabbed a shirt from the merch stand and we quickly found our seats in the solid and ornate yet very intimate venue. Not sure if there was an opening act as some tunes were blasting from speakers and technicians were on stage gearing and tuning up. Before long, the band made their way to the stage and got right into Do the Damage, a fantastic track relegated to B-side status from Chasing Yesterday. A giant screen behind the band had visuals and close ups of the band with lyrics and whatnot in a nice touch. The seats were very close to the kind of small stage making it feel even more intimate for the 2,000 person crowd. It must have been three or four songs in before Noel greeted the crowd and he was chattier and more friendly than I've ever seen him.

Apparently the last time he was inside The Orpheum was for a Marilyn Manson concert with the eccentric rocker face to face with little brother, trouble maker and rock star Liam being quite the meeting of the minds. Tunes flowed fast and furious with tracks from debut album Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and Yesterday keeping things rolling. Noel attacked each song with surprising vigor and he looked much more relaxed than on his first tour when I just kept thinking he needed to let it go, open up and go for it. Lock All the Doors was fantastic live as was the self described "fucking brilliant" song You Know We Can't Go Back. The Riverman and The Death of You and Me brought things down a little, maybe swap them out for Some Might Say. Because it's awesome. Noel chatted with the audience from time to time, picking out goers who have attended many of his shows or asking "who's Ian?" when someone yelled out something about Liam.

Oasis favorite (not mine, I prefer their upbeat stuff) Champagne Supernova was a surprise and you could feel the energy in the room lifted by nostalgia. Digsy's Diner, a goofy yet fun song about lasagna from Definitely Maybe coupled with my favorite song from his first album, If I Had a Gun, closed things out beautifully.  After a quick break, The Chief, his second lead guitar, bass, drum, keyboard and brass players came back and launched into Oasis B-side The Masterplan, terrific Noel tune What A Life! and finally, the crowd crooning Don't Look Back In Anger. I wasn't excited, at all, two hours before the show but instantly came back to life as soon as Noel walked on stage and left the Orpheum temporarily deaf but foreseeably happy. Thanks, Chief, see you on the next one.

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