Sonos/NME competition winner Tom Edwards reviews Noel’s climactic live set at the NME Awards
Even for Noel Gallagher, being crowned a Godlike Genius isn’t something that happens every day. It’s a lofty claim, and if The Chief were to stake it with real gusto, he would have to take to the stage and blow the goddamn roof off. But, of course, this is Noel Gallagher. So that’s exactly what he proceeded to do.
Pic: Andy Willsher/NME
Kicking off the set with a re-imagined version of early Oasis B-side ‘(It’s Good) To Be Free’, Noel and his High Flying Birds demonstrated that they really are beginning to define a sound of their own. Unlike the adrenaline-fuelled wall of noise that was the original, this version had more of an understated charm. ‘Everybody’s On The Run”s tempered and punchy psychedelia then segued into the anthemic singalong ‘Dream On’.
Two more NGHFB tracks followed – the first of which, ‘If I Had A Gun’, possesses for my money the most poignant, most beautifully melodic chorus Noel has produced since the 90’s. And the fact that he could get away with playing four new tracks (including the extremely well received ‘AKA… What A Life!’) in a gig which most acts would probably fill with a golden oldies collection, proves that there is more than a little life in the old dog yet.
That said, it was of course inevitable that Noel’s godlike lap of honour would have to end on some old Oasis favourites. The first, a rousing rendition of another B-side ‘Half The World Away’ was somewhat surprising, but the second was most certainly not…
Upon receiving his award, Noel had pointed towards the new guard of musicians assembled before him and said: “To all the bands who have been influenced by me. You are welcome.”
Now, you might think that this was a typically arrogant assumption of his own greatness… but believe me when I say that the moment ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger”s explosive chorus reverberated around Brixton’s gorgeous and historic academy, the room – full of the most exciting musical talent our nation can boast – raised its arms raised aloft, and in unison, screamed out every single word.
A fitting sermon then from a godlike genius indeed, and if ever he had a church filled full of his most eager disciples, then this was surely it.
To watch the NME Awards, tune in to Channel 4 on Saturday night (March 3) at 11.55pm. Half an hour of highlights will be shown on T4 at 9.25am the same day.