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WHAT'S THE STORY? SOLO NOEL'S BORING

The Olympia Theatre is buzzing. Hundreds of fans move in unison, the majority of them no doubt struggling to retain their excitement. This is what they've been waiting for. This is the moment of truth. This, folks, is what happens when rock stars start over. And then -- around about the time that Sally's soul slides away -- it happens. Yep, one unfortunate punter loses his mind.

"There's only one Gallagher!" he shouts, raising his beer for added effect. Sadly, Noel doesn't seem to have heard the poor chap. And if he did, it might have brought a smile to his face. But then, the eldest of rock's most famous brothers isn't one to show his emotions. Well, not when he's in the middle of a gig, anyway.

He may give the best quotes in rock, but Mr Noel Gallagher is hardly the most gifted live performer to ever grace a stage. Nor was the other fella, mind, but at least he had presence. Hands behind the back, legs spread, parka on -- ah yes, young Liam was (thankfully) one of a kind. But his brother (the talented songwriter) stared out from the sides; that knowing look in his eyes that said 'to hell with swagger, these are my songs, man, and I'll play 'em as I like'.



ANthems

Place the guy front and centre and it appears that nothing has changed. Different setting, same old habits. This is, of course, his debut performance as a solo artist, and by the time he gets to the O2 next February, he might even be a changed man. But for now, there are one too many screws that need tightening.

Musically speaking, it's a fairly solid set -- a neat mish-mash of old vs. new, his recently released High Flying Birds material sitting nicely alongside the anthems of yesteryear. A slightly reworked, acoustic rendition of Wonderwall could have been better, but a storming combo of The Importance of Being Idle and Little by Little more than made up for that.

He's got a skilful group of musicians to work with, but there's very little to suggest that Noel is enjoying life after Oasis. It's all just a little too boring -- too rehearsal-like. Great player, average performer. Which is a shame, because the new material is anything but dull, especially Dream On and the superb AKA ... What a Life! A little more banter in between songs would have been nice, too.

Indeed, when Noel gets going, he really is a joy to listen to. But is it wrong to ask for more from a frontman? It's time for the guy to step outside the box; shake things up a bit -- act like a star, basically. There is, of course, more than one Gallagher. But this one could do with a few improvements. HHHII