Review: Kasabian and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at Marlay ParkTweet
Entering Marlay Park was like a military operation; pat downs, metal detectors and countless members of An Gárda Síochána present. The atmosphere had been palpable on the journey there and then endless queues and an intimidating yet necessary set-up dampened the mood temporarily. Maverick Sabre provided an impressive soundtrack for the few that made it in early.He was followed by The Cribs who entertained a small crowd of fans, who were delighted to hear Men’s Needs in particular whilst others enjoyed the music while basking in the humid weather further back.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds took to the stage and were met with a rippling cheer and launched into Oasis classic (It’s good) To Be Free. It was not long into the set before the power from the PA cut out and the band regretfully left the stage. Booing ensued and exasperated sighs grew louder as time went on. The band sauntered back on to the stage after a while and moved on to the second track on their set list, Mucky Fingers, another Oasis original, however yet again the PA failed and Gallagher’s face said it all; a placid shake of the head and an apologetic gesture to the crowd and he and his High Flying Birds were gone again. Finally they returned to a louder cry; anyone would think it was constructed to get the desired reaction if Noel weren’t the more professional (and talented) Gallagher. They recommenced with the exceptional Everybody’s On The Run, it was a stomping song that encouraged a lot of bouncing and dancing in the relieved crowd. The set continued with Dream On and the beautiful If I Had A Gun.
NGHFB created a happy and relaxed atmosphere, which would later be contrasted by Co-Headliners, Kasabian. The performance was off to a surge start despite the technical difficulties which seemed to have been forgotten by the receptive audience. Gallagher later apologised for the problems saying: “They had to put 50p in the Metre” a joke that was probably lost on about half of those in attendance. There was truthfully a carnival atmosphere people were smiling, dancing and laughing, again this was in contrast to Kasabian’s later performance, when there seemed to be a lot of aggressive moshing around the park, emphasising the sheer difference between the two headliners. The most well-known NGHFB songs were performed with ease and simplicity. The band looked relaxed and as though they were enjoying it, which was reflected by the audience. Gallagher interacted with some members of the audience who were to the fore of the crowd; showing his genuinely down-to-earth nature. Somewhat inevitably the most well received and passionately performed tracks were from his past with Oasis, however this does not disregard the NGHFB originals.
Supersonic was stripped down with the band easing up on the heavy, electric instruments and slowing it down; somewhat reminiscent to the Ryan Adams version of Wonderwall. Talk Tonight was an incredible choice of song. It instilled a sense of comradery into the crowd as friends and lovers embraced singing the lyrics wholeheartedly. This rendition was given the opposite treatment to Supersonic in that it was beefed up with electric guitar and it was the perfect accompaniment to the darkening sky. It truly established the atmosphere for the rest of the performance. Half the World Away was met with a similar response, it being a favourite among long-time Gallagher fans. Gallagher’s voice was wonderfully showcased in this track; his melodious tones, natural flow and effortlessness was moving and contagious; the crowd were soaking up every second of the perfectly delivered tune. NGHFB’s show came to end with Don’t Look Back in Anger. The crowd was in its element as Gallagher himself must have been. Every word was sung along to by, one would hazard to guess, every person in the zealous and awe-struck crowd. It was not enhanced by any extra tidbits, it was not relished with a folkish tinge; Gallagher performed pristinely with his new band, as he did with Oasis complete with the slick deliverance of the famous solo. The crowd seemed displeased with Gallagher’s announcement that this would be his last Dublin gig for a long time saying “Hey, it’s a big world” and he graciously left the stage.
He and his band were given a hero’s send-off which was well deserved; despite the initial hiccups it was a stellar performance. Most revellers waited patiently for what would be a ceremoniously loud performance. Kasabian opened up their set with a huge build up to Days Are Forgotten, the lead single of their album, ‘Velociraptor!’ This lead into a ferocious rendition of Shoot The Runner, arguably the single which launched them from ‘cool indie band’, to out-and-out rock superstars. It was only two songs in and this was one of the highlights. As always Serge and Tom’s voices were in sync, complimentary and commanding, Underdog was another momentous track; the immense guitar riffs encouraging a howl of pleasure from many in the crowd. It was a religious-like experience, the band playing a song with a positive, ‘no one can beat me’ attitude and the thousands of people singing passionately back to the preachers.
Tom Meighan, like Gallagher, referred to his Irish heritage, not in a cheesy way to get a cheer from the crowd, but out of genuine pride that he has Irish blood and that he was performing to his comrades. This sincerely added to the performance as a powerful passion could be felt from the lead singer as he coolly performed each song in the inimitable fashion for which he is known. Club Foot was another pertinent track of the performance; it was met by a loud cheer and a premature chorus showing the ability this band have to draw such excitement from an audience. It’s during this song that it became clear that these guys just get better with each performance and they are masters of their trade. Other highlights of this complete performance included Where Did All The Love Go? It was a rocking yet touching performance. As always, when Serge Pizzorno commands the microphone it is a special moment. On this particular occasion he gave a beautiful, atmospheric rendition of Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime by ‘80s band The Korgis.
Like his musical hero, who preceded his performance on stage that night, his lead vocal presence is not constant but greatly appreciated due to his masculine yet soft vocals which adds an air of melancholy to a song. Although their rendition was not greatly changed from the original Kasabian’s version of the classic song seemed their own. It was a truly evocative moment. Meighan soon paid remarks to Noel Gallagher, citing him and his band (Oasis) as the reason Kasabian exist; this coincides with many interviews in which Pizzorno stated that he picked up a guitar because Gallagher made it ‘cool’. He said, with honesty, that they would dedicate the next song to NGHFB . A familiar piano arrangement echoed throughout Marlay Park with some revellers expressing confusion, wondering what song it was. Others recognised Praise You by Fatboy Slim immediately and the meaning behind the dedication was clear; Gallagher deserved praise from Kasabian and this was their way of giving it. The response to the song was surprising; although an unlikely cover it was brilliantly perfected yet the energy of the crowd dipped slightly; perhaps this was as a result of the many younger audience members, perhaps it was because it was not as thumping as many of their own songs; however it was enjoyable and many of the audience members revelled in the change of pace in the show. The song seamlessly lead into LSF one of the most loved tracks by hardcore Kasabian fans. The crowd shouted the lyrics back at the band with sheer admiration as the band displayed their mastery of showmanship; the audience following their every word and every request to jump, clap, and wave.
The Encore was more or less immediate, they disappeard for no more than a minute or two. The crowd chanted “Can you feel it coming” in anticipation for what was pleasantly inevitable. Soon the band returned to the stage and followed the chant before launching full force into what was one of the most anticipated songs of the night, Switchblade Smiles. It was outrageously powerful; the alternative dance anthem thumped through the park and the ecstatic crowd yelped and sang; almost in disbelief at the standard of performance. Another fan favourite Vlad The Impaler was similar to Switchblade Smiles in that it spawned a catch phrase for Kasabian’s A wild performance of ‘Get Loose, Get Loose’ was mirrored by the crowds energetic reaction. It was so flawless that it could have just as easily been a recording; once again showing the professionalism and skill of this astonishingly talented band.
The final song was Fire; another track off the album that saw them exceed themselves in 2009, ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’.The crowd were ordered to jump as high as they could; and most did. It was typical of an outdoor rock concert; energetic, full of life and people were absorbing the surroundings. The song was performed to utter perfection; The music died down and the band left stage, Meighan referring to his proud heritage once again. He returned to the stage solo to give a short A-Capella treat in the form of The Beatles’ She Loves You; the crowd were in his lap as though he were a religious leader who had just spent the last 20 songs prophesying the way to live your life.
Surely one of the strongest line-ups Ireland has seen in any individual concert this year, it was a euphoric celebration of working-class born music written and performed by two people who even have a dash of Irish blood. It was also a night of generational accomplishment; Gallagher the accomplished master that once lead the UK and Ireland into a new and exciting generation of music made way on stage for his one-time apprentices and now fully qualified voices of a younger generation. It was a thrilling experience, one that may not be enjoyed for a while, in the case of Noel Gallagher’s performance, literally. Gallagher proved once again that he is, despite criticism, a gifted performer and songwriter; a leader of a musical generation, some might say the equivalent of Paul Weller for the 2000s and 2010s. A bold statement but one that could be weakly contested after watching his performance in Marlay Park. Kasabian, likewise, proved themselves to be the big band, the voice of this musical era; it is rare to come across a performance so spotless, so all-encompassing, so capable of withdrawing raw emotion from a huge audience. This live collaboration needs to happen again.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Kasabian Photo Gallery
Photos: Owen Humphreys
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