LEWISTON – “So what is this place?” Noel Gallagher, one of the world’s most mercurial and prolific rock stars was asking, in earnest, from his position center stage.
A member of the audience answered him. “It’s a park,” Gallagher repeated, dubiously. “With wild animals in it? There’s nothing in the wild any more.”
Gallagher is touring with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, the band he formed after his previous band, Oasis, folded.
Oasis was an inescapable – and beloved – sonic staple of the ’90s and Gallagher wrote all the lyrics.
Gallagher, and stellar bandmates (introduced at show’s end), played Artpark amphitheater on Wednesday night. Appearing to be half-full, the spaces between bodies meant less chance of bumping into another person’s sticky arms that humid night, a plus.
Well-known are the stories about the troublesome relationship between Gallagher and his brother Liam: now Gallagher is free of any apparent drama, instead verbally scrapping with audience members as he sees fit, between tunes and to the delight of all.
There would be other musings by Gallagher throughout the set. He’d tease an audience member about his brand new shirt from the merch table (“That fills me with so much pleasure. It’ll be (expletive) after one wash, but it’s the thought that counts.”). And he inquired about the local football team.
“Have you got a football team here? And I don’t mean soccer. That’s a stupid name (after hearing the team name). It’s named for a frontiersman? What the (expletive) is that? Are they any good?”
The nearly two-hour set was a well-orchestrated balance of Oasis platinum hits, more obscure Oasis b-sides, and songs from the two High Flying Birds releases. Thematically and sonically there is a continuum of the Gallagher sound: Songs are lyrically lush, there are twinges of melancholy, and there are great leaps toward love.
Gorgeous highlights of the set included, unsurprisingly, “Champagne Supernova,” performed with some added rock guitar flourishes. During this moment the audience nearly matched the band decibel-per-decibel as they sang.
“The Mexican,” off of “Chasing Yesterday,” and “If I Had a Gun,” off of the premier High Flying Birds release, were other show standouts.