If Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn can share a stage, there’s hope for an Oasis reunion yet. On Saturday night they made Britpop history with Blur’s Graham Coxon on guitar and Paul Weller, no less, playing drums as though he’d never seen a kit in his life.
Gallagher shared backing vocals on Blur’s Tender, and all was well with the world.
This matey celebration of water under the bridge was the centrepiece of a week of gigs for Teenage Cancer Trust, with Gallagher inheriting the curator’s mantle from Roger Daltrey but sticking to the annual template of dadrock peppered lightly with pop and comedy. His one surprise move was a decision to share a bill with Coxon and especially Albarn, a man on whom he once publicly wished a horrible death.
Before he arrived, Gallagher’s notoriously unadventurous fanbase was treated to Albarn and Coxon doing a Kevin Ayers cover followed by two rambling, jazzy “song poems” featuring the squealing and bleating of septuagenarian poet Michael Horovitz. With Weller operating a keyboard apparently stuck on “demo” mode, it was more like a sketch for Comic Relief than Teenage Cancer Trust.
Normal service resumed with a lengthy headline set from Gallagher’s band. While his fading brother Liam is one of the great rock vocalists, everyone feels they can manage Noel’s bits, so both his solo material and his Oasis B-sides were met with arms-aloft audience singing.
Likely to return in 2014 with another solo album, one new song stood out, a pounding rock ’n’ roller that suggested he might be louder next time. “I’m not gonna tell you what it’s called, you’d freak out,” he decided.
An acoustic Supersonic, the propulsive piano of AKA… What a Life! and inevitably a closing Don’t Look Back in Anger, were more highlights. A Simple Game of Genius was dedicated to Albarn. Hatchets suitably buried, look out for the jazz/spoken word collaboration album coming soon.