The clichéd sight of someone playing ‘Wonderwall’ badly on an acoustic guitar at a house party – it’s something we’ve all witnessed. But what about when the tables are turned, as they were back in October when Noel Gallagher joined U2 on stage in London to play two tracks, including a cover of The Beatles’ ‘All You Need Is Love’. Quite the team-up. Noel’s never shied away from tackling other artist’s tunes, either with Oasis or now as a solo act, but where does it rank amongst his other attempts at classic tunes? From Guitar Hero to acoustic zero, we take a look back, and rank them, starting with the best.
The Smiths – ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’ (Royal Albert Hall, 27/3/2007)
It’s the orchestral backing that does it – Morrissey’s melancholy is turned into a Gallagher-inspired symphony here, with the line “If a 10-ton truck kills the both of us…” sounding like a rather pleasant way to go out when it’s performed like this.
Blur – Tender (with Damon Albarn and Paul Weller at Royal Albert Hall, 23/3/2013)
Way to bury the hatchet: the Britpop Cold War officially ended on stage in March 2013 as the generals of the opposing parties let bygones be bygones to perform this Blur classic, all in the name of charity. A delightful cover that was so historic that it’s often overlooked that support on drums that night was provided by some fella by the name of Paul Weller – look closely, he’s in the back doing his best Dave Rowntree impression.
Small Faces – ‘Here Come The Nice’ (with Paul Weller and The Small Faces at London Astoria, 20/4/2001)
Bit of a supergroup feel about this one: Noel is joined by Small Faces organist Ian McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones, along with the Modfather himself, to deliver a rockier take on the chirpy, psychedelic-leaning original from 1967. Performed at a gig held in honour of the late, great Steve Marriott, it’s a rousing tribute.
The Beatles – I’m Only Sleeping (with Kelly Jones)
The Stereophonics frontman leads this cover… wait, come back! It’s actually quite good! This acoustic-ish version of the Revolver song is surprisingly listenable, even if Jones’ vocal is gravellier than Tom Jones at B&Q.
The Verve – ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ (Date unknown)
Not the best recording – unless you’re into hearing the audience clapping as loud as the instruments – but it’s still a fine effort from Noel as he covers Richard Ashcroft’s finest moment, with a stirring finish that befits the grandeur of the original.
Slade – Merry Christmas, Everyone (2000)
Look, if Sainsbury’s can sell turkey and stuffing sandwiches in October, then we can listen to Noel’s cover of the song that keeps Noddy Holder’s pension pot healthy without feeling too guilty about jumping the Yuletide gun. Originally featured on The Royle Family‘s 2000 Christmas Special, it’s a slower yet competent version of the song that your drunk uncle no doubt serenades your gran with every Christmas morning.
The Beatles – ‘All You Need Is Love’ (with U2, at O2 Arena, 26/10/2015)
“Aaaaaaaall yooou neeeeeed is looooooove!” bellows Bono in one of the least subtle segues – from U2’s ”I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ into The Fab Four’s timeless classic – ever attempted in music history. Noel’s love of The Beatles is well-documented, so it’s up to him to bring some decorum to proceedings – and he succeeds with a softer vocal than his fellow frontman. It’s short and sweet too; no ‘Hey Jude’-type mammoth singalongs here.
Coldplay – ‘Yellow’ (with Chris Martin, at London Astoria, 29/10/2002)
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime [moment], ya bastards!” Cheers, Chris – Noel barely exerts himself here over the four-chord Coldplay cut, joining in occasionally with cooing backing vocals at this Make Trade Fair benefit concert. Not exactly one for the ages.
The Beatles – ‘Help’ (1998)
This is nice enough, but c’mon Noel – this has a bit of an open mic feel to it, doesn’t it? Veering between loud’n’quiet guitar strums, it showcases that a) Noel can sing and play the guitar very well, and that b) he quite likes The Beatles. And, er, that’s about it. Nice lighting, though.
David Bowie – ‘Heroes’ (1997)
Tough one, this: ‘Heroes’ is undoubtedly a great song – albeit the kind that everyone bar the Thin White Duke should leave well alone. And it seem that this even includes Oasis, as Noel fronts a rather overblown cover – the B-side to ‘D’You Know What I Mean?’ – that retains very little of the original’s zeal.
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