Noel Gallagher at Isle Of Wight Festival 2019: A celebration where the funk and the classics did the talking

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The former Oasis man and his High Flying Birds closed out the festival’s Friday lineup.

From the very moment Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds stepped on the main stage at the Isle Of Wight Festival, it was evident that the night was going to be all about the music and nothing else. Never one to deliver Kanye-esque soliloquies, Gallagher let his guitar do all the talking from the off, and it wasn’t until three songs in that he formally addressed the crowd. “Good evening Isle of Wight festival,” he said, before being met with a roaring response from the 35,000 plus in attendance. Then without so much as uttering another word, straight into ‘It’s a Beautiful World’ he went.

Taking place on the same day as the arrival of his new EP, ‘Black Star Dancing’, the performance played like an unofficial release party. Regardless of the fact that the only song from the new release played was its title track, it was more about a feeling. Because as experimental as Gallagher has always been with the High Flying Birds, his new material feels different. It feels like Motown funk mixed with early ’00s British indie tied together with a roll of reel from the Muscle Shoals archives. So with that said, the spirit of ‘Black Star Dancing’ was felt all night.

While his ‘cosmic pop’ sound and Creamfields-esque laser show are looking to the stars, Gallagher’s rare moments of banter keep things very much grounded. Upon driving into the Isle of Wight festival grounds there’s a helicopter landing field. But while you’d assume that it’s reserved for headline acts and their extravagant entrances, according to Gallagher he took the ferry like everyone else. “I was on the ferry earlier,” he told the crowd. “This guy came up to me and said he was related to me because his name was Gallagher.” Joking that the man who approached him said they must be related because his family were “from Newcastle too,” after some riotous laughter from the crowd, Gallagher dedicated the next song to “Jack… in the yellow shorts.”

It adds to the communal spirit. While the crowd were singing at the top of their lungs to the likes of ‘AKA… What a Life!’, ‘Everybody’s on the Run’ and ‘She Taught Me How To Fly’ from the High Flying Birds chapter of his career, it was the choice cuts from the Oasis catalogue that landed like they were written precisely for moments like this. Teasing a couple of his Britpop gems early on, a joyous sing-along to ‘Wonderwall’ sees four played in quick succession.

“Here’s one for your mum and dad,” Gallagher said to the crowd, before getting stuck into an emotional rendition of ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’. Pausing as the song drew to a close, Gallagher glanced out at the crowd for the closing chords – appearing both composed and reflective. Stoic as ever, what wasn’t being said or sung was expressed with a glint in his eye and the solid tense of his jaw. You’ll never know what he was thinking. You can be fairly certain he wasn’t missing Liam. They may never share a stage again, but tonight everything still felt pretty much complete.

Noel Gallagher’s setlist was:

‘Fort Knox’
‘Holy Mountain’
‘Keep on Reaching’
‘It’s A Beautiful World’
‘She Taught Me How To Fly’
‘Black Star Dancing’
‘The Importance of Being Idle’ (Oasis song)
‘Little By Little’ (Oasis song)
‘Dead in the Water’
‘Everybody’s on the Run’
‘AKA… What a Life!’
‘Wonderwall’ (Oasis song)
‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’ (Oasis song)
‘Half the World Away’ (Oasis song)
‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ (Oasis song)
‘All You Need is Love’ (Beatles cover)