Noel Gallagher & Garbage tour strikes balance of celebrating legacy & cementing new classics; hits Cincinnati July 1

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DALLAS, Texas (WOUB) – As Oasis and Garbage approach the 30th anniversaries of their debut albums, they both find themselves in the sweet spot of celebrating the remarkable legacies of era-defining albums that now appeal to multiple generations of fans – while also having plenty of juice to still face the challenges of creating new material that captivates audiences.

The co-headlining tour for Garbage and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is absolutely a must-see show for fans of ‘90s alternative rock — especially those of us who are too young to have experienced it back then, as this millennial journalist was — but it’s not steeped in nostalgia, either… rather than try to re-create the ‘90s, both groups deliver their ‘90s gems with the same ferocity as back then — but channel them in ways that suit the present times, and neatly compliment their newer songs.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds released their newest album, Council Skies, on the day of their co-headlining tour launch with Garbage.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds released their newest album, Council Skies, on the day of their co-headlining tour launch with Garbage. [Isaiah Cunningham I WOUB Public Media]
Ahead of the tour’s Ohio swing through Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Center (6925 Kellog Ave.) on Saturday, July 1, WOUB had the chance to catch Gallagher & Garbage at Dos Equis Pavilion in Dallas, Texas. What follows is a recap of that show — particularly what’s in store for Oasis fans who are less acquainted with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. (Bonus content: in my interview with Tears For Fears’ Curt Smith, which remains one of my favorites, he elaborated to WOUB the reasons why TFF unexpectedly selected Garbage as their touring mates.)

Garbage performs in Dallas, TX.
Garbage’s debut line-up remains intact; and this tour even finds them reunited with their original touring bassist, Daniel Shulman, pictured between drummer Butch Vig and guitarist Duke Erikson. [Isaiah Cunningham I WOUB Public Media]

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds pull most enticing tracks from Council Skies for first half of their set

Noel Gallagher faces a unique predicament. Whereas Garbage has their debut’s entire line-up intact, Oasis disbanded in 2009; and his post-Oasis band, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, has a legacy of their own to celebrate. Leading up to brand-new record Council Skies, all four of their prior albums notched #1 in their native Great Britain. The High Flying Birds’ success is in spite of press fixation on Noel’s complicated relationship with brother Liam Gallagher, the front-man of Oasis — where Noel was the sole songwriter of all their famous ’90s singles.

For this tour, Gallagher divides his set between catalogues of each band; dedicating the first half to the High Flying Birds and the second to Oasis.

Gallagher recently told Rolling Stone that the response of American audiences to songs from Council Skies has been “terrible.” I suspect that there was a fair depth of jest in this remark, true to form with the Gallaghers’ infamous deprecation of each other, themselves, and most everything under the sun – a good-natured smirk that delights listeners in their homeland, but I feel doesn’t always clearly translate to American readers. (Having a 90 year-old Scottish immigrant grandmother informs my hunch.) Either way, in fairness, Council Skies was released on the day of the tour’s launch; affording little time for even determined listeners to get acquainted.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds performs in Dallas, TX.
The stage set design for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds pays homage to Oasis’s hometown of Manchester. [Isaiah Cunningham I WOUB Public Media]
Gallagher featured the most accessible cuts off Council Skies for his set, like the chimes-laden Open the Door, See What You Find. The song boasts an immediately infectious, soaring chorus — one that I found myself singing along to right away. Seeking this song on the album after the show, I’ve been stewing on the contrastingly morose Trying to Find a World That’s Been and Gone Pt. 1, the track that follows Open the Door… on the LP.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds open their show with the bristling Pretty Boy, the first Council Skies song Gallagher demoed and completed for the album, as well as its first single. The stage set was blanketed with bouquets of recognizably Manchester blooms and regalia of Man City football club – whose diehard fandom is one area where the Gallagher brothers are always unwavering in unity.

From my vantage point in Dallas, the round of consecutive Council Skies songs actually stirred the audience quite well. The album’s closing track, the bouncy We’re Gonna Get There in the End, particularly elicited people to bop along. Its brassy arrangement and empowering lyrics – which kick off with “Remember the dream that you’re keeping alive” — are a welcome motivation in 2023, with much of this nascent decade having felt like a turbulent holding pattern.

After wrapping their Council Skies suite, the High Flying Birds play a few highlights from prior records. A stand-out was In the Heat of the Moment, lead single from the Birds’ 2016 Chasing Yesterday album — which served as a reminder that the band’s principle songwriter is the same as Oasis’. When I’d noticed that the Oasis superfan next to me was animatedly reacting to this track, I asked if he was familiar with this song. He answered “I don’t know this song, but I *feel* like I know it with my soul!”

Gallagher unafraid to nix Oasis’ major U.S. hits from the set in favor of beloved deep cuts

Then, unceremoniously, Gallagher quipped “this is one you’ll know” – he had previously introduced a new song as “not Supersonic, if you can’t f***ing tell” — before launching into the first Oasis cut: The Masterplan. Unsurprisingly, the recognition of Oasis material ignited an uproarious reaction… but what’s astonishing is that this track doesn’t even hail from an Oasis studio album – it was a B-side to Wonderwall in the UK (but not the USA), and is the title track to a 1998 compilation of Oasis B-sides. Two other B-sides, Going Nowhere and Half the World Away, drew similarly rapturous responses.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds performs in Dallas, TX.
Demand for Oasis material is so great that a compilation of B-sides, entitled The Masterplan, was released; and a few of those compiled Oasis B-sides shine on Noel Gallagher’s latest American tour. [Isaiah Cunningham I WOUB Public Media]
If Oasis B-sides were anthemic enough to bring the house down, I suppose it was unnecessary for Noel to perform Wonderwall – Oasis’ sole gold single in the USA, and what I’d anticipated would be a shoe-in for performing on an American tour. Perhaps Champagne Supernova, which went #1 on the Modern Rocks Track, would’ve also gone gold if it had been a physical single release; but Noel didn’t perform either.

Perhaps Noel wanted to avoid songs Liam sings lead on. It makes sense given the possible backlash doing so might elicit not only from online trolls, but potentially from Liam himself.

Live Forever was the only song in the set that originally had Liam on lead. The optimistic ballad was first composed by Noel in 1991, and was key to Oasis getting signed by Creation Records in 1993. From there, the boys from Manchester were catapulted to the stratosphere at a pace that was truly “supersonic” – the title of their first single, and also the 2016 Oasis: Supersonic documentary that chronicled their meteoric rise.

Live Forever, in my view, was the greatest highlight of the set. Written by an exuberant young Irishman in Manchester, its inclusion to the Council Skies tour is appropriate — and to hear it sung through the spirit of a 56-year-old rockstar and father of three (his eldest child is now approaching the age at which his father wrote Live Forever) is nothing short of mesmerizing.

Hearing Noel croon  “Maybe I will never be all the things that I wanna be, now is not the time to cry,” at this stage of his life – backed up by an audience accompaniment that I can only describe as “choral” — could prompt an analytical essay itself.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds performs in Dallas, TX.
Don’t Look Back in Anger was the first Oasis single to feature Noel Gallagher singing lead, and became one of their biggest hits. [Isaiah Cunningham I WOUB Public Media]
Two other Oasis A-sides were included in the High Flying Birds’ set: UK/Canada superhit Little By Little and the set’s closer, Don’t Look Back In Anger. The latter is one of Oasis’s biggest hits – and its title and theme might be the perfect reminder for navigating this era of polarization.

When Oasis recorded (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, Noel gave Liam the option to choose between singing lead on Don’t Look Back In Anger or Wonderwall. Now, after three decades, it seems Noel is content with his brother’s decision to let him take on this powerful song.

Garbage provides powerful set of songs new and old

Garbage are no strangers to Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Center – they’ve already performed there in 2021 and 2022 – opening for Alanis Morrisette and Tears For Fears, respectively. For those who caught one (or both) of those shows, some might wonder if it’s worthwhile to go see them again so soon. Speaking as someone who also saw Garbage opening for Alanis, I strongly feel that it’s absolutely worthwhile to see them headlining.

The opener slot served as an excellent primer on Garbage, and greatly heightened my interest in them, especially as a younger listener… but the freedom associated with a headlining performance made me better appreciate not only Garbage, but also the particular era of post-grunge alternative rock that claims them as pioneers.

Garbage performs in Dallas, TX.
For their co-headlining tour with Noel Gallagher, Garbage is opening their show with the opening track to their 1995 debut album: Supervixen.  [Isaiah Cunningham I WOUB Public Media]
Whereas Gallagher opened with a string of songs off his newest album, Garbage opted for a one-two punch from their very first record – opening their performance with Supervixen.

Supervixen, the opening track of Garbage’s debut album, set the tone for their explosive start in 1995. Its powerful riffs and contrasting silence, alongside the iconic pink-feathered album cover, was accurately described as a “a sort of black hole implosion into which you feared your soul might be sucked,” by Hot Press writer Peter Murphy.

Watching Garbage open with Supervixen — which they haven’t performed in Cincinnati since 2005 – was worth the modest cost of admission, alone. It’s too bad that Supervixen wasn’t a bigger hit; likely because its prospects were overshadowed by the simultaneous release of #1 Crush from the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack, which powered up to #1 on Billboard’s US Alternative Airplay chart. It’s ironically fitting, then, that this hypnotic staple followed Supervixen in the band’s 2023 set list.

These two early bangers were followed by The Men Who Rule the World, the opening track and lead single off their latest album, No Gods No Masters. I was struck by how long it took me to recognize the tune as a newer one; proving that Garbage’s newest songs compliment their older hits very neatly without feeling derivative. That’s a skillful balance for a band so strongly associated with their fame-breaking era to achieve.

Garbage’s ’90s hits evoke nostalgia, sure — but it’s clear the band isn’t trying to replicate that era. Instead, the songs resonate shockingly well with the present. During their performance of Special, Shirley Manson’s vocals carried added depth, enriched by the kind of wisdom one only accumulates with time and experience. The 1998 music video for Special depicted the band as galactic fighter jet pilots, inspired by the excitement for human prospects as the new millennium loomed – but in 2023, it now reflects something far more complex and rich, a sentiment shaped by the decades of global conflicts and democratic erosion which played out after the dawn of the new millennium.

When Shirley sings Garbage’s biggest hit, Stupid Girl, she radiates in the odds-defying results of her conviction to not squander her potential on vapidness and patriarchal confines all those years ago. She prefaced Version 2.0’s pulsating Push It by noting she wrote the lyrics while she was “a bit glum, down, and feeling that the forces of the world were holding me back.”

A quarter-century later, she’s still performing that song in amphitheaters; and reassured those who “feel like s*** tonight [that] nothing stays the same, everything turns around – even the really hard stuff.”

Push It was and is an anthem for disenfranchised youth; but in 2023 it’s simultaneously evolved into a beacon of reassurance.

Garbage performs in Dallas, TX.
Shirley Manson sings The Men Who Rule the World, lead single of Garbage’s latest album. Garbage’s newer material fit neatly between their ‘90s hits, which still sound current in the present, flexing the timelessness of their entire catalogue. [Isaiah Cunningham I WOUB Public Media]

Garbage takes time to interact with fans

The longer set time of Garbage’s headlining performance in comparison to their 2021 and 2022 opening slots means not only more time for more music, but also more time for priceless audience interaction memories. I’ll note a couple of anecdotes from the Dallas show that stand out.

After finishing Bleed Like Me — the title track of Garbage’s 2005 album, before they went on a 7-year hiatus — Shirley paused to point out a beetle on stage; one that she was determined to save before continuing the show and accidentally stomping it to death. Manson said the beetle and its predicament brought to mind her own mother’s death – and she couldn’t bear to think about mindlessly stamping this bug out of its life. Considering Bleed Like Me is a song about empathy for those who are different – the coincidental timing of this interspecies salvation was impeccable.

However, the best exchange happened between Manson and a young fan.

I noticed a young boy and a man who was presumably his father in front of me during The Men Who Rule the World. The boy, who stood on his chair in order to see the band, knew every word of the new material… and belted it out with oodles of animation. The sweetness was complemented by the matching Garbage t-shirts the two wore.

Manson noticed the boy and called him onto to the stage, where she thanked him for his enthusiasm and gave him a pair of drumsticks from Garbage drummer Butch Vig. (I’m not sure if the boy was fully cognizant of how Vig also produced Nirvana’s Nevermind album, which further emboldens the gift’s historic significance.)

This incident felt like the embodiment of the symbolic passing of the torch from one generation to another; serving as a good metaphor for the show, overall.

Toronto’s Metric opened the show

The co-headlining tour’s opening act is Metric of Toronto, who celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut LP, Old World Underground, Where Are You?, this year. Two of Metric’s self-released albums have gone Platinum in their native Canada, where they’ve also won numerous Juno Awards (Canada’s equivalent to the Grammys).

In America, two of Metric’s albums have ranked in the Top 40 of the Billboard 200 albums chart, including 2012’s Synthetica at #12. I admittedly wasn’t acquainted with them prior to this tour — but I quickly understood why they were selected by Gallagher and Garbage, whom Metric frontwoman Emily Hained likened to touring with the Beatles and Rolling Stones.

Now or Never Now was the most noteworthy stand-out to my ears.

Metric performs in Dallas, Texas.
Toronto’s Metric band are the opening act for the co-headlining tour of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Garbage. Pictured L-R are James Shaw, Emily Haines, and Josh Winstead. [Isaiah Cunningham I WOUB Public Media]

Co-headlining tour proves Gallagher and Garbage are both seasoned, yet ever-innovating artists

Noel Gallagher and Shirley Manson are both 56 years of age, and offering the best of both worlds at this stage of their careers: long enough to deliver classics from decades ago with hair-raising intensity, but with decades of innovative material still ahead of them. (It’s worth noting that Manson’s Garbage bandmates are substantially older, but also still in peak form — I was particularly impressed by guitarist Duke Erikson, whose saliently fluid stage presence defies societal expectations of his 72 years.)

The heights of their stardom do not deter them from continuing to challenge and refine their songwriting prowess, and the songs that powered their ‘90s launch to celebrity stratosphere are delivered in a fine wine kind of way, that makes them timeless relics rather than dated artifacts.

Noel Gallagher and Garbage are in the pinnacles of their artistry – seasoned, but still innovating. The fact that they can be seen in headliner-length sets on the same night, for modestly-priced admission makes for a bargain. This millennial reviewer urges any fans of alternative rock to attend in Cincinnati, or elsewhere on the tour, especially if you were too young to experience the ‘90s alternative scene firsthand!

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Garbage are on a co-headlining tour, that plays Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Center (6295 Kellogg Ave.) on Saturday, July 1. For tickets, and their full tour itineraries, visit their official websites: or