Review: Noel Gallagher at Leeds Arena
While the former guitarist and chief songwriter of Oasis may have carved out a successful new chapter in his career with the High Flying Birds, the vast majority of the audience at the First Direct Arena in Leeds had come to relive the music of the band which played a pivotal role in the musical phenomenon of the 1990s that was Britpop.
And they were not to be disappointed.
Nearly half of the 21 songs on the setlist were Oasis tunes, but carefully selected to ensure that Gallagher was able to stamp his own identity on the music rather than simply being a pale imitation of his brother Liam’s famous vocal delivery.
Fade Away, Talk Tonight and The Masterplan all featured, and there was perhaps an inevitability that the encore was to feature both Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back in Anger.
But while the past featured heavily, it is not to say the present should be overlooked.
Gallagher’s recent music fitted seamlessly into the set, Lock All the Doors, In the Heat of the Moment and The Mexican proving particular high points.
He introduced You Know We Can’t Go Back, one of the stand-out tracks from his latest album, Chasing Yesterday, with “this one’s for fans of Oasis” - and the song would not be out of place as a B-side to any of the Mancunian band’s singles.
And as any Oasis fan knows, that is far from a criticism as some of the band’s best tracks never made it on to an actual album.
While it is his music that has found a place in the nation’s psyche, Gallagher is well-known for his acerbic wit.
His gig in Leeds was to be no different, providing the perfect platform to stoke up the rivalries between Manchester and West Yorkshire.
Referencing his beloved Manchester City’s progression to the semi-final of the Champions League, he asked the Leeds United fans in the audience: “Do you remember that at all?”
And he closed the set with a characteristically grand statement that he would see the crowd in Leeds “in another couple of years when I have written another masterpiece”.
Spoken by anyone else, it would have seemed simply as though their ego was out of control, but Gallagher’s music more often than not backs up his grandstanding.
He would baulk at any suggestion that he is an icon of British popular culture, but that is exactly what he has become.
And for that, evenings such as these should be cherished.