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Live Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – 28th July 2023 – South Facing Festival, Crystal Palace Bowl, London, UK

4 min read

Only a Gallagher could curse and insult his fans and it be considered a charming gesture by those in the firing line. While moments during last night’s show by proud Manchurian and Brit-Pop icon Noel Gallagher and his world famous High Flying Birds could leave an unfamiliar attendee with raised eyebrows, the fans at South Facing Festivals latest outdoor event in the leafy surroundings of Crystal Palace Bowl were happy to lap up any words that fell from their grumpy-yet-charismatic rock idol’s mouth.Fresh from a stint touring the US, Gallagher and co made a triumphant return to the UK to promote the legends latest studio album, Council Skies for fans that were there in equal measures for the recent penning’s by the Oasis hitmaker as they were for the hits from his former band phenomena.

Building the set in almost two equal parts, the first half was focused purely on material from his latest release with Pretty Boy and Council Skies cracking a lid on the breezy outdoor show; flashing images of clouds and industrial landscapes appearing on the screens that served as a backdrop to Gallagher and his cohesive band. Open The Door, See What You Find was flavoured with not just a Mama’s and Papas/flower power-esque 70’s seasoning, but this vibe was also magnified through the dozens of colourful flower bunches positioned over the stage with Gallagher confirming ahead of the song, “This next song is not Supersonic“.

As the sun started to fall, the rocker delivered a mostly gentle set form his HFB catalogue including a flowing performance of Dead In The Water later into the set. Softly played to his acoustic guitar, the superstar gave his adoring fans one of a handful of opportunities to provide a singalong to the new album number; despite Gallagher’s cheeky criticism of their vocal skills which got a laugh from the field full of Britpop aficionados while If I Had a Gun was met with a massive applause from the crowd as Noel delivered an early HFB addition within the set. It was In the Heat of the Moment however that got the crowd really into the full swing of the night; the songs infectious melody and “nah nah nah’s” encouraging the fans to propel the song to almost anthemic level, making it one of the most memorable numbers offered within the 90 minute set.
As Gallagher and his band offered up hit after hit, a lightbox showing a logo for Manchester City at the rear of the stage was brightly and intentionally lit as a proud reminder of the musicians home city – the star dishing up further insults to fans of other football clubs after his performance of Oasis number, Half The World Away as he would run through a number of teams, calling each “shit” in his usual cheeky demeanour. But this type of attitude is something that comes part and parcel with attending a show by either Gallagher brother – both have built not just impressive catalogues as solo stars and members of Oasis – but they have also built equally famous reputations of being cocky and opinionated, regardless of the environment or company.

As much as the new songs from new album Council Skies, and those from previous back catalogue albums were met with approval from the audience, the Oasis hits making up the latter 3rd or so of the set were the ones the fans wee obviously there the most for with the likes of The Importance Of Being Idle, The Masterplan and Little By Little all providing a nostalgic injection of gritty yet still fresh sounding Oasis repertoire.

After a punch cover of Bob Dylan’s Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn), Gallagher offered us stellar versions of Live Forever and Gallagher-sun Oasis signature hit, Don’t Look Back in Anger which had the phones of almost ever fan in the outdoor space up in the air and swaying along to the superstar as he ushered out an absolutely phenomenal night and memorable addition to this year’s South Facing Festival.

Setlist:

Pretty Boy
Council Skies
Open the Door, See What You Find
We’re Gonna Get There in the End
Easy Now
We Know We Can’t Go Back
Were On Our Way Now
In The Heat Of The Moment
If I Had A Gun
Aka…What A Life
Dead In The Water
Going Nowhere (Oasis)
The Importance Of Being Idle (Oasis)
The Masterplan (Oasis)
Half The World Away (Oasis)
Little By Little (Oasis)

Encore:
Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn) (Bob Dylan cover)
Live Forever (Oasis)
Don’t Look Back in Anger (Oasis)