Rock ‘n’ roll is simply more entertaining with Noel Gallagher in it.
Gallagher established his rock star bona fides as the guitarist and primary songwriter of Oasis, the dominant English rock act of the mid-1990s. He and his bandmates wore their pronounced Manchester accents like a badge of honor. The embodiment of a British working-class band, they could be scruffy, ill-mannered, crude and hedonistic.
They were also blessed with an ability to crank out stadium-sized guitar hooks and choruses. Inspired by everyone from the Beatles to Burt Bacharach, Gallagher wrote many of those choruses; his younger brother Liam brought them to life as Oasis’ lead singer.
The band’s 1994 debut, “Definitely Maybe,” defined the Britpop movement of the 1990s, a sort of British counterpoint to far gloomier American grunge. It was a remarkably poised debut, a rock ‘n’ roll album that established a sound and attitude with fully realized songs.
The second Oasis album, 1995’s “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?,” blew up even bigger. Stocked with such home-run singles as “Champagne Supernova,” “Wonderwall,” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” the album has sold more than 22 million copies. It is the fifth best-selling album of all time in the United Kingdom, home to such heavyweights as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
But the center of Oasis couldn’t hold, due to a litany of mostly self-induced stresses. Rampant recreational drug use, rotten behavior, outrageous statements, the departures of multiple band members and an increasingly volatile relationship between the Gallagher brothers took a toll. The music became secondary to the tabloid tawdriness. Gallagher has described the third Oasis album, "Be Here Now," as an example of why cocaine use is bad for music-making.
They briefly reclaimed their former glory with their sixth album, 2005’s “Don’t Believe the Truth,” and the long tour that followed, only to disintegrate, in spectacular fashion, four years later. The band canceled a festival appearance after Liam claimed he was suffering from laryngitis; Noel blamed the cancellation on a hangover. Liam sued Noel; Noel apologized.
But the writing was on the wall. The bad blood between the brothers, arguably the most destructive rock 'n' roll sibling rivalry since the Kinks' Ray and Dave Davies, culminated with a backstage brawl at a festival in France on Aug. 28, 2009. The show was scrapped, and Noel subsequently issued a statement confirming his departure: "It is with some sadness and great relief. ... I quit Oasis tonight. People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer.”
So that was that. The mighty Oasis was no more.
Not surprisingly, Noel resolved to put himself firmly in charge of his next band. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have released three albums to date. The most recent, the well-received “Who Built the Moon?,” came out in November.
The High Flying Birds will land at the Orpheum Theater on Friday. Show time is 8 p.m.; tickets range from $52 to $77.50 plus service charges.
Now 50, Gallagher has settled down considerably. He no longer stands astride British rock like a Colossus. But he’s kept right on talking.
In 2014, the British music magazine New Musical Express compiled “Noel Gallagher’s 50 Funniest Quotes.” In 2015, Rolling Stone assembled a list of “101 Things Noel Gallagher Has Been Mad At.” Several quotes on the Rolling Stone list were also on the NME list, because when Gallagher is mad, he’s also funny.
From Jay-Z to Radiohead to Ed Sheeran to Coldplay to, especially, Phil Collins — Gallagher seems to question Collins’ right to exist, let alone make music — he’s offered honest opinions, rather than the nicey-nice lip service most artists pay to each other.
He’s also fostered his feud with Liam. He memorably described his brother as “rude, arrogant, intimidating and lazy. He’s the angriest man you’ll ever meet. He’s like a man with a fork in a world of soup.”
He’s also not averse to criticizing himself — or singing his own praises. In 2006, he boasted to the Guardian newspaper, “I was a superhero in the ’90s. I said so at the time. (Paul) McCartney, (Paul) Weller, (Pete) Townshend, (Keith) Richards — my first album’s better than all their first albums. Even they’d admit that.”
He’s probably right.