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Noel Gallagher

Noel Gallagher – Portsmouth Guildhall

I thought I’d be one of the early ones to tonight’s gig but so did about a 1,000 other people that were in the queue in front of me! That could mean only one thing – the Chief was in town – the last time I was in a queue this big for the Guildhall was when Gorillaz played in 2017!

Being a man of comfort these days I took up a seat at the back of the Guildhall waiting for the main event to start whilst watching the standing section fill up very quickly. We were being serenaded by the acoustic tones of the support act Adam Zindani, who had been on these small run of shows recently with Noel in Poole and Bournemouth. Adam is the rhythm guitarist for welsh superheroes Stereophonics, as well as the lead vocalist for Casino.

Noel’s songwriting expertise coupled with his brother Liam’s snarling vocals, propelled Oasis like a rocket to be arguably the best but certainly one of the biggest selling bands of the 90’s. Legions of fans that have now passed the music down the generations, which is there to see with the demographic of tonights gig. Sometimes it feels like you are attending an AGM of the 90’s when turning up at a gig of one of the Gallagher brothers.

A rapturous reception awaits the Chief when he arrives on stage, flanked by ex-Oasis members, Gem Archer on lead guitar and Chris Sharrock on drums. All in all, there are a dozen musicians on stage with Noel. Flying straight into his latest offerings from ‘Council Skies’ the first five numbers are straight from the record which included ‘Open the Door, See What You Find and Easy Now – Noel was a man of few words during this opening part of the evening. Sometimes it’s hard to tell with his vibe whether he is in or just gauging the audience reaction. The silence is broken by Noel and he promises to take us back to the 90’s, the best time, as the set goes on, much to the delight of all in attendance. This was very much the same the last time I saw Noel perform on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival in 2022.

‘AKA…What a Life’ is dedicated to all the (Man) City Fans in the crowd – the Bournemouth gig was dedicated to Pep Guardiola (who was on stage with Noel in the form of a cardboard cut out!) This prompted the first chorus of Blue Army for the evening. I was surprised it took that long to be fair! Play Up Pompey also rings out which Noel describes as ‘the shittest song of all time’ – as much of a Pompey fan that I am, that did make me chuckle!

Chris Sharrock has been as animated as ever on the drum kit all evening continually snapping sticks and bouncing them off the kit up in the air and catching them whilst seamlessly continuing to play. Gem is Gem, which is one cool bastard, stepping in to showcase his talents throughout on lead guitar. A big shout should go out to Jessica Greenfield as well on backing vocals (as well as keys and percussion) providing those vocal harmonies so well with Noel.

We are edging closer to the 90’s with the anticipation building with every passing solo number – although Noel’s back catalogue is pretty strong in my opinion. Yes, it’s not Oasis, but his sound has evolved no end over these last 14 years. The track, for me, that epitomises Noel’s song writing prowess is ‘Dead In The Water’ – it’s just a beautiful track. It was a shame it was hard to hear Noel and keys player Mike Rowe over the talking but I suppose that’s expected (or I’m just getting old and grumpy) when it comes to acoustic numbers.

We finally arrive at the 90’s with the second half of the set commencing with “Going Nowhere’, ‘Talk Tonight’ and ‘Whatever’ – three absolute belters, two of which are from The Masterplan, Oasis’ ‘B side’ album – who even makes B side albums these days, let alone with songs of that calibre!

The Oasis numbers just kept flowing with the notable ‘The Masterplan’ which is a masterpiece in my opinion, ‘Half The World Away’ which is synomonous with the TV show The Royle Family and ‘Little by Little’. Just to mix things up we were treated to the the High Flying Birds version of the Joy Division classic ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ – very different in its approach and one which I have struggled to get on board with so far.

The traditional encore routine proceeds lasting no more than a few minutes before Noel et al return to the stage to bring even more Oasis numbers including ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘Live Forever’ – its strange to hear these fully sung by Noel but I love how he has reworked them to make them click for his vocal range. There’s only one Noel penned number this gig can end on – ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ provides the biggest singalong of the evening with hands adorned in the air and people on shoulders, these are the gig moments we live for!

Noel’s parting words to the adoring fans – ‘see you sometime down the road, up the f@*king blues’!

Photo Credit – Paul Windsor

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