Chasing The Moment With Noel Gallagher at The Warfield

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
May 18, 2015
The Warfield

Better Than: Getting ripped off for an extra $10 by the parking machine outside the venue.

If the euphoric reaction from the crowd to Noel Gallagher closing his encore set with the Oasis mega-hit “Don't Look Back In Anger” was any indication, the fans who filled The Warfield Monday night may indeed have been Chasing Yesterday. It seemed everyone in the building had been eagerly anticipating their chance to sing “Soooooo Sally can waaaaaait!” at the top of their lungs — and no one dared to miss it. Members of the crowd waved their arms and swayed their bodies like it was Knebworth in 1996.

However, Gallagher himself seems to be living in the moment. Opening the night with the driving “Do The Damage”, a bonus track off Chasing Yesterday (Gallagher's latest album), the set consisted of a nearly equal number of tracks off Chasing Yesterday and 2011's Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds with five Oasis songs sprinkled in for good measure. But no matter where the source material had originated from, Gallagher and his Birds preformed each song with a steady professionalism, delivering a solid, honest-to-goodness rock ’n’ roll show. Technically proficient, sonically pleasing with subtle psychedelic overtones, and backed by simple but effective lighting and graphics, The Birds soared through an over 90-minute long set.

[jump] In the Oasis days, the Gallagher brothers were known maybe as much for their attitudes as their Beatles-meets-Sex Pistols anthems, and Noel, now 47, can still entertain with his wit as much with his songs. Gallagher was living in the moment, and demanded his audience do the same. He seemed playfully annoyed throughout the night at the amount of cell phone use on the floor in front of him. Early on in the set he asked one fan on his phone, “Are you ordering hookers?” Then told the fan he should have arranged all that before the gig, but if he was indeed ordering hookers, Gallagher was interested himself. When one audience member heckled Gallagher asking him something like, “Is your brother (Liam, the lead singer of Oasis) here?” Gallagher responded with mock confusion, “Who? Your brother? I don't know your brother, is he here? No, he's not here.” About 45 minutes later he asked another fan, “Are you still taking pictures? Live in the moment, never mind your fucking phone.”

And perhaps that fan should have been living in the moment, because the emotional high of the night followed next, as Gallagher wanted to know where were we when Oasis was getting high. In other words, it was time for another Oasis hit, “Champagne Supernova”. The stripped down acoustic version of the classic track off (What's The Story) Morning Glory? accentuated the nostalgic quality of the song, and had the crowd full of people who were probably getting high to the song when it was released back in 1995 singing along to every word. 
The dichotomous pull of Chasing Yesterday and “living in the moment” could be felt throughout the night, with both yesterday and today having their exciting moments. Solo era-Gallagher ballad-anthems “Dying of the Light”, and especially “If I Had a Gun”, have the same mesmerizing attributes as Oasis classics like, “Wonderwall” or “Don't Look Back in Anger.” And while the nostalgia of Oasis B-sides “Fade Away” and “The Master Plan” is without a doubt powerful to experience, the Buzzcocks-esque soaring punk of “Lock All The Doors” (written in the early Oasis days but not finished and released until 2015) kicks up the energy like “Bring it On Down” might once have, and stands alone as a great song.

Gallagher seems to have found a comfort and confidence as a solo artist, putting on an exciting and well-rounded show. Yet, there is also no doubt of the shadow cast by one of biggest rock bands of all time being present in the minds of those who came to see Mr. Gallagher and his High Flying Birds. Right now, it's probably best to “live in the moment” and enjoy the show for what it is, and who's to say when yesterday might come calling again? After all, next year is the 20th anniversary of Knebworth.

Critics Notebook:

– Gallagher noted that the local brass section for the night was “The best we've had in America” which lead to the three dudes in the back with horns ecstatically highfiving each other.

– Gallagher seemed real upset that it was cold in San Francisco, “It's a different fucking city when it's cold. They don't show this weather on the adverts.”

– I would have loved to hear more and different Oasis B-sides which Noel sang like, “Half The World Away” “Talk Tonight” and “Going Nowhere” because I'm that guy.

Setlist:

Do the Damage
(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach
Everybody's on the Run
Fade Away (Oasis cover)
In the Heat of the Moment
Lock All the Doors
Riverman / The Death of You and Me
You Know We Can't Go Back
Champagne Supernova (Oasis cover)
Ballad of the Mighty I
Dream On
The Dying of the Light
The Mexican
AKA… Broken Arrow
Digsy's Dinner (Oasis cover)
If I Had a Gun…

Encore:
The Masterplan (Oasis cover)
AKA… What a Life!
Don't Look Back in Anger (Oasis cover)

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