With no opening act and in pure rock 'n' roll fashion, former Oasis guitarist and songwriter Noel Gallagher made his entrance on the stage of Akron’s Goodyear Theater last night without the use of pyrotechnics or lasers. Gallagher calmly strutted out with his backing band, the High Flying Birds, as if he was just another singer, despite the fact that he was one of the most fiery and outspoken rock stars back in his Oasis heyday in the ’90s and ’00s.
Touring in support of his third solo album, Who Built The Moon?
, the Manchester, England native has had extensive experience playing in the states, but his undeniably strong British identity was reflected in the crowd last night with plenty of English soccer apparel (mostly of Gallagher’s beloved Manchester City, which he proudly displayed his love for with a big flag on one of his amps) and even chants of “United!,” referring to Manchester City’s bitter local rivals.
Gallagher previously played in Cleveland nearly three years ago at the House of Blues and because that show was standing room only, it definitely had more of a drunken English soccer fan feel than the fairly reserved, seated show in Akron last night, though it was clear that the crowd was behind Gallagher at every step of the way.
The majority of his set featured tracks from his new album, with the first 20 minutes or so coming exclusively from his latest record. He opened with “Fort Knox," a tune that featured mesmerizing psychedelia. Despite concerns about the track’s ability to translate to a live setting given its dense layers of instrumentation including brass, keyboards, and literal bells and whistles, the production-heavy track went down well with its sheer wave of noise and Gallagher’s spirited, uplifting lead vocals.
More new tracks such as “Holy Mountain,” “It's A Beautiful World” and “She Taught Me How to Fly” were also well-executed and included memorable performances from his two French bandmates — one who famously plays the scissors and the other who provided absolutely powerhouse lead and backing vocals. In addition, his former Oasis bandmates, including guitarist Gem Archer and drummer Chris Sharrock, who delivered on his well-known drumstick tricks, particularly his tosses and catches from an impressive altitude, stood out as well.
Gallagher’s love for his new material was also apparent after he played one of his new b-sides, “Dead in the Water,” which he played alone on stage. It was one of several moving and passionate acoustic performances from the night. Obvious other highlights included his Oasis selections, especially “Go Let It Out,” “Half The World Away,” “Don’t Look Back In Anger” and “Wonderwall.”
While Gallagher has been hesitant to perform “Wonderwall” in the past — and he’s openly bashed the song and its unstoppable radio popularity — Gallagher finally obliged and played it, though he was careful to change some of the vocal melodies just to prove that he wasn’t fully giving in. Unsurprisingly, “Don’t Look Back In Anger” was the best sing-along of the night with Gallagher stepping back to allow the crowd to sing the all of the song’s choruses except the very last one, where he decided to join in.
Gallagher was extremely animated and engaging with the Goodyear Theater crowd throughout the entirety of the night. He directly addressed some of the young fans in the audience, including a young boy named Wyatt who was hoping Gallagher would perform Oasis’ “She Is Love.” Gallagher responded that he doesn’t play that song for anyone, but he kindly dedicated “If I Had A Gun” to Wyatt instead.
Gallagher was also quick to take a couple of tongue-and-cheek jabs at Akron, at one point asking what Akron has going for it on a night like this, to which someone yelled, “You!” and Gallagher chirped back to the amusement of the audience, “That’s fucking right!”
Gallagher finished his jubilant set with a cover of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” and it was a fitting, celebratory ending with audience members lending their voices once again and with Gallagher charming fans with his love of classic British pop/rock and his one-of-a-kind personality.