Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: International Magic Live at the O2
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: International Magic Live at the O2 Blu-ray delivers great video and superb audio in this excellent Blu-ray release
Three years after Oasis disbanded, guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist Noel Gallagher performs at London's O2 Arena with his new group, the High Flying Birds. The set list includes new songs and Oasis-era hits.
Noel Gallagher's stint with Oasis was as famous for his off stage antics as it was for anything he did onstage or in the
recording studio. Gallagher's tumultuous relationship with his brother Liam led to a lot of tabloid fodder through the
Oasis years, and while people as legendary as George Martin were lauding Gallagher's songwriting skills, there was a
certain uneasy feeling a lot of the time that Gallagher might be the next in a long line of rock stars to go off the deep
end and either die tragically young or self-sabotage his career to the point of no return (think of a musical analog to
Lindsay Lohan). Whether or not it was due to the roiling sibling rivalry with Liam that led to many of his perceived
problems, once Noel left Oasis he seemed to pull himself back from the brink from impending disaster, and his post-
Oasis career has been at least relatively calmer (from a tabloid perspective if nothing else). Gallagher's High Flying
Birds might be thought of as Oasis 2.0 in several key ways, not the least of which is Noel fronting the band and writing
the material. In fact High Flying Birds really seems to be just a whimsical appellation for what is in reality Noel's solo
career. If the group continues to perform under this moniker, one wouldn't be surprised to see supporting band
members come and go, but the basic sound and style remain the same. Gallagher has often been criticized for
assembling pastiches of other songwriters' material rather than writing anything really original himself, and the
more cynical listener will find plenty of ammunition for that opinion on International Magic Live at the O2, which
is not to say that the concert isn't hugely enjoyable. There's in fact a certain comfort to hearing slightly familiar
sounding material, and Gallagher invests enough nuance and arranging skill to make even overtired tropes like the rock
standard I-vi-IV change sound inviting if not exceptionally innovative.
There's pretty convincing evidence that Gallagher is at peace with his past, courtesy of the several Oasis tunes this
concert features, many of which resemble if not outright mimic the original versions. But Gallagher also seems to be
testing the waters with some slightly different sounds as well, incorporating The Crouch End Festival Chorus and
investing some tunes with a more slick and orchestrated sound. There's still a kind of folksy edge to a lot of this
material, with jangly strummed acoustic guitars and a kind of lo-fi ambience to the vocals, but other songs incorporate a
lot of plugged in instrumentation, including multi-layered synths and a more choral sound to the vocal arranging.
A lot of Oasis fans have gladly matriculated over to Gallagher's current project, and there's obviously a stylistic
continuity at work here, despite some equally obvious attempts to break free of whatever mold Gallagher may have felt
had been imposed upon him. The good news about this all is that Gallagher seems to be in a really good place, having
put his demons at bay, at least temporarily but hopefully permanently. Though Gallagher himself credits John Lennon
with inspiring "Don't Look Back in Anger", there's an at least equal (if unintentional) reference to the famous John
Osborne play, Look Back in Anger, a play which helped define the "angry young man" era in British theater.
Gallagher himself has many of the elements of the "angry young man", and while he wrote his song during the Oasis
timeframe, it seems even more relevant now as he forges ahead into new directions with a less combative attitude.
The O2 concert contains the following songs:
01. (It's Good) To Be Free
02. Mucky Fingers
03. Everybody's on the Run
04. Dream On
05. If I Had a Gun...
06. The Good Rebel
07. The Death of You and Me
08. Freaky Teeth
10. (I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine
Noel Gallagher High Flying Birds Internation Magic Live at the O2 is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Music
with an AVC encoded 1080i transfer in 1.78:1. The days of the straightforward concert video seem to be squarely in the
past now, as any number of high profile releases over the last year or so have indicated. This is yet another release which
offers a lot of post processed imagery, and rather strangely that includes intentionally distressed footage that is filled with
grain, scratches and other blemishes, giving it an obviously retro feel. It's just a little odd to be seeing this kind of thing in
high definition, as it seems designed specifically to look "old school", maybe even worse than standard definition. If
you can either accept or at least overlook those elements, most of this concert looks very sharp, at least in close-ups, which
are plentiful. Though there's the typical tendency to feature lots of quick cuts, International Magic Live at the O2
isn't as bad as many recent concert videos, and that means we at least have a few seconds to gaze on the players.
The audience is bathed in blue for a lot of the concert (as the screenshots accompanying this review clearly show), and that
tends to rob those elements of any significant fine object detail, but the more naturally lit stage does offer well above
average sharpness and clarity, at least when the cameras get up close and personal with the players. The interlaced
presentation does create some very minor combing artifacts, but they're negligible. The one fairly significant complaint I
had with this presentation was with the color, which looks fairly anemic most of the time. This may in fact be due to the
stage lighting, but fleshtones are pretty pale and even the clothing doesn't really pop with much robustness.
Noel Gallagher High Flying Birds Internation Magic Live at the O2 features two excellent sounding audio options, a
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix and an uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo fold down. Gallagher's voice is very well
mixed in both of these options, though it's just a little more forward in the 2.0 mix, which some fans may actually find
preferable. The 5.1 mix adds a significant amount of ambient hall noise, and this being the O2, that noise shouldn't be
underestimated. That said, the mix still presents the actual music with clarity and precision, with excellent separation of the
instruments. The guitars sound especially good here, with crispness unmarred by any brittle high end. Fidelity is excellent
on both of these tracks, though dynamic range is relatively limited.
I frankly was never a huge Oasis fan. I appreciated a lot of their music, but it never spoke to me as viscerally as it
obviously did to many others. I was pleasantly surprised, then, at how much I enjoyed this High Flying Birds concert.
There's a nicely hewed balance between the folk elements and a harder rock edge here, and some of the quasi-classical
touches (like the large chorus) are also very well done. While I personally don't consider Gallagher to be the most
incredible songwriter of all time (an opinion that many Gallagher fans would obviously argue with), I still deeply appreciate
his fine melodic sense and especially his often very incisive and intelligent lyric writing. Both Gallagher and his newish band
sound great, tight without being constrained and obviously very enthused about the material. This Blu-ray offers generally
excellent video and superior sound, and it comes with some really good supplementary material. Recommended.
Use the thumbs up and thumbs down icons to agree or disagree that the title is similar to Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: International Magic Live at the O2. You can also suggest completely new similar titles to Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: International Magic Live at the O2 in the search box below.
Universal Music has detailed the Blu-ray release of Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: International Magic Live at the O2. The 2-disc set follows former Oasis guitarist and songwriter Noel Gallagher as he performs live in London and plays an acoustic set in Toronto, ...
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: International Magic Live at the O2 Blu-ray, Forum Discussions