At 8 pm, support act The Academic shuffle on to stage. These four young men from Mullingar have a proven talent for songwriting and having seen them on several occasions we can honestly say it’s a pleasure to see them back in The Marquee; the last occasion having supported the Pixies.
The kick drum is loud enough to rattle organs while lead singer Craig Fitzgerald soars above the crowd, his vocals reverberating around the Marquee. Debut single ‘Different’ was an obvious highlight but lesser known tracks like ‘Bear Claws’ provide an ample reaction. Say what you want about the youth and vigour of these lads but our money is on their hooks – before last night we wouldn’t have been able to sing any song, but as soon as that first chorus finishes it seems as though you’ve been singing it for years.
And, after what seems like an eternity listening to playback, the lights dim and the Mancunian rock-legend takes to the stage accompanied by his High Flying Birds. Opening with two tracks from their debut, Noel barely glances at the audience as he plays through ‘(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach’ and ‘Everybody’s On The Run’.
For many, Noel Gallagher is a memory of more vibrant times for rock music and the industry. Gauging the age of the audience, it’s easy to see that not only are they of the Oasis era but that many are still caught in the time machine; nevertheless, the ageing legion know every word to every track. ‘Lock All The Doors’ is NGHFB’s latest single and was apparently over 20 years in the making; “This song was never released by Oasis, but the chorus is so fucking brilliant I never gave up on it” Noel told NME. It’s abundantly clear that Gallagher’s success resides not in his performance but in his penmanship – having written some of the best anthems of the last 30 years, it’s only reasonable to assume he would continue to do so after Oasis and Chasing Yesterday is a fine example of that.
‘In The Heat Of The Moment’, ‘Riverman’ and ‘The Mexican’ are all hard-hitting tracks which are interlaced between a generous offering of Oasis classics. “I assume we’re all Oasis fans here?” Noel asks as the opening chords of ‘Fade Away’ are played. At times it’s hard to tell whether the frontman is really enjoying himself or just going through the motions and whilst stopping between several songs to chat with the front row, one occasion sees a ‘local comedian’ ask “Where’s Liam?” Quick as a whip, the frontman retorts, “Liam’s at home lookin’ at himself in the mirror…unfortunately he’s still not as big a c*nt as you are. Imagine that, imagine being a bigger c*nt than that kid. That blows my mind.” The interaction knocks him off-balance as he proceeds to introduce ‘Dream On’ as ‘The Importance of Being Idle’, but we’ll forgive him this time.
The crowd reach the height of frenzy for those sing-along tracks which could never be omitted, ‘Champagne Supernova’, ‘Whatever’ and an encore of ‘The Masterplan’ allow us to take vocal control as the rain beats upon the tent outside. The penultimate track of the evening an encore of ‘AKA…What A Life’ is followed with a final word of gratitude, “it’s been an absolute pleasure playing here, thank you all very much.”
It’s his last words that really show the pride imbued in the music he has created. “Are you ready for our last song? It’s the best one anyway…” and with that, the opening bars of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ ring through the Marquee for what is undoubtedly the biggest Karaoke moment we’ve heard all year in the venue; a fitting tribute to the big top that has given us an amazing run of live music.
It’s been an outstanding year for Live At The Marquee and will undoubtedly be capitalised upon next year but what really struck us was the affinity a lot of bands hold for Cork. It would be easy to claim all those who played were the usual platitudinal, location sycophants but that’s dispelled when you hear the likes of Glen Hansard harking back to his days in Nancy Spains and Sir Henry’s or Noel Gallagher’s memories of Pairc Ui Chaoimh. It’s clear that Cork is a city many artists respect, and, looking forward we’re spoiled for choice with Sounds from a Safe Harbour, Folk Fest and the famous Jazz Festival all arriving in the coming months.
Noel Gallagher photographed for State by Jakob Bekker-Hansen