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#CocoLive – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, 02 Academy, Bournemouth

A tour de force performance from one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all times.

Fresh from a stint touring the USA, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have made a triumphant return to the UK where they are undertaking a series of gigs which includes a brief pit stop at the O2 Academy in Bournemouth.

This intimate gig for a venue that holds fewer than 1500 was a somewhat surprising addition to the rocker’s tour and was recorded in its entirety by Absolute Radio.

Despite production wise being a slightly scaled down version from the Brighton gig the night before, it still visually had all the hallmarks of being a classic Noel Gallagher gig.

The stage was still adorned with colourful flowers and potted plants as well as a lifesize cardboard cutout of legendary football manager Pep Guardiola proudly wrapped in a Manchester City Football Club scarf.

Noel’s latest album, the brilliant ‘Council Skies’ has been one of my favourite albums of the year so I was more chuffed than Thomas the Tank Engine to see him perform tracks from this live. 

Noel kicked off proceedings with the hypnotic ‘Pretty Boy’ with its menacing glittering neo-psych guitars and post-punk energy. There was no doubt that Noel meant business.

Noel gave a spellbinding performance on the beautiful ‘Open the Door, See What You Find’ which gave the sold out crowd ample opportunities to sing along. This was preceded by Noel’s quip that the next track ‘was not Supersonic!’.

Ably supported by backing vocalist – the fantastic Jessica Greenfield, this was a real standout and effortlessly showcased his spectacular performance skills.

There’s no doubt that Noel Gallagher is an extraordinary performer in his own right, but the other members of the band Gem Archer, Mike Rowe, Russell Pritchard and Chris Sharrock also get a chance to shine. On ‘Pretty Boy’, Russell’s driving bass lines are particularly exceptional as well as on ‘Council Skies’.

A consummate musician, Gem Archer is a guitaring heavyweight champion of the world once again proving why he is one the best guitarists in music which included an incredible heart-pumping guitar solo on ‘Easy Now’.

From the kaleidoscopic ‘We’re Going To Get There In The End’ to ‘AKA…What A Life’, Noel delivered a sublime stroll through Noel’s ever-evolving career post Oasis which included a stunning rendition of ‘We’re on Our Way Now’.

Whilst there was an emphasis on NGHFB’s material, the delighted audience were treated to a smorgasbord of both Oasis classics and deep cuts which included one of the best renditions of ‘The Importance of Being Idle’ that I have ever heard.

Noel’s vocals were phenomenal and the passion, prowess and power were palpable in both his performance and delivery on tracks like ‘The Masterplan’, ‘Half The World Away’ as well as on a stripped back and highly emotive version of  ‘Live Forever’.

Closing with the aforementioned monumental masterpiece, a sensational reimagining of Bob Dylan’s ‘Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)’ and of course the obligatory powerhouse that is ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, this was a standup masterclass in performance and showmanship and once again cements Noel as one of the best songwriters and storytellers that the UK has ever produced.

Photo Credits:  Joe Flanagan & Emma Harrison