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Tuesday 12 December 2017

High flyers - but not near Oasis' peak

It's hard to believe that it was a full 21 years ago next month that Oasis announced themselves to the world with their debut single Supersonic. With Suede and Blur operating from a more sexually challenging and art-school base, the no-nonsense approach and riotous behaviour of lead singer Liam Gallagher and his songwriting older brother Noel certainly came as a breath of fresh air.

A thrilling debut Irish gig in the Tivoli Theatre that sweltering summer cemented the fact that Oasis were, indeed, the band of the moment and their fantastic debut album Definitely Maybe looked like the beginning of great things. The album's musical merging of the Beatles, T.Rex and Slade seemed a great starting point and while Noel's lyrics were, at best, perfunctory, there was clearly plenty of room for improvement.

Alas, Definitely Maybe was as good as it got and while 1995's (What's the Story) Morning Glory? sold in the multi-millions it felt like reheated leftovers - some of them pretty tasty. Two decades later and Noel has just released his second album with the High-Flying Birds, Chasing Yesterday, and things haven't changed a bit.

The High-Flying Birds play the 3Arena on Wednesday (promos for the gig appeared during every single ad break on Newstalk this week - not a great sign) and about the best you could say about the album, and its predecessor, is that it's competent Oasis-like music without the charismatic vocals of that band's singer.

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Noel still can't write a decent lyric while the best track on the album, the opening Lock All the Doors, is a song he wrote before he even joined Oasis.

In recent interviews Gallagher has said that Chasing Yesterday (an apt title if ever there was one) is his most musically 'progressive' album, by which he really means that a couple of tracks have saxophones on them. In fairness, he still gives great interviews, witty and deliciously indiscreet, but unfortunately like every Oasis album from Morning Glory onwards the music is as dull as a wet Wednesday in the Manchester. He's adamant that there won't be an Oasis reunion any time soon and thank God for that, given that from early '95 onwards their gigs were like conventions for football casuals - brash and brainless.

Noel clearly has the talent to craft decent melodies but with the High-Flying Birds everything reeks of 'will this do?' Maybe for some people.

>>>George Byrne

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