• Review

REVIEW: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Garbage, & Metric

Photo Cred: Jared Bowers

Let me just say at the start - what a weekend, Cincinnati! No matter where you were or what you were doing, I hope you were able to get out and experience a once in a lifetime confluence of events that really highlighted so many things that make this city special. It was a genuinely special time for us as a city and as fans (of pretty much anything and everything).

Last night, I was fortunate enough to check out Riverbend’s offering to the Entertainment Gods - Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Garbage with support from Metric. You’ll recognize Noel Gallagher’s name from his time with 90’s Britpop outfit Oasis (they of “Wonderwall” fame), and Garbage, the Shirley Manson led 90’s born alt-rock quintet boasting super-producer Butch Vig on drums, among other bonafides. We’ll get to both shortly.


Metric - honestly, I don’t know what their notoriety and popularity looks like these days. They’ve been at it since the late 90’s, but outside of Canada and Europe and the UK, I don’t know that they ever really broke in the US the way that they should have. Getting to catch them after the release of their newest, Formentera, I was anticipating a newer music heavy setlist. When they started with “Gold Guns Girls,” though, I was very, very quickly proven wrong. This was, for me, a bucket list band. I’ve never had the chance to see them live, and wasn’t sure that the opportunity would present itself. Cincinnati, as we all know, is quite often skipped over on major tours (but after this weekend, I think that’s about to change). I want to thank them for playing “Black Sheep,” a song that they wrote for one of my all-time favorite films, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. That song, and that film, have a rather significant and special place in my heart - hearing it live was a surprise, and I won’t lie, I got a little emotional. A great live band, both really tight soundwise but loose enough to roll with it all, they played an almost but not quite career spanning set that my partner and I each felt immensely satisfied by. Just an awesome way to start the night.


Co-headlining the tour, Garbage was a genuine surprise. I assumed they’d be good - their experience and pedigree more or less guarantees as much. What I wasn’t expecting was an invigorated, lively, and thoroughly entertaining set of songs that were both unfamiliar and objectively great. Once they hit the final 4-5 songs of their set, they slid seamlessly into more or less familiar territory, playing immediately recognizable tracks “Paranoid,” “Stupid Girl,” and a really lovely ballad-esque rendition of “Only Happy When It Rains.” Manson’s voice was as powerful as ever, and the band as a whole was just all-around on point. You never really know what you’re going to get in situations like this, so it was almost relieving to see a band of Garbage’s stature and longevity having a good time and doing whatever the opposite of phoning it in would be. Some highlights:

  • The age range for fans of this band was truly shocking. Kids of about age 5 to folks in their 60’s and 70’s, really, it ran the gamut and was entertaining in and of itself. To the 8 or so year old behind me loudly singing along to “Only Happy When It Rains,” I salute you, and commend your parents for letting you listen to such somber stuff so early. Also, to the fist pumping 8-9 year old just in front of us, hell yeah. You get it.

  • Manson spoke briefly about a third of the way through their set, mentioning that she was aware of another big show happening in the city, and was genuinely thankful for how many folks came out to see them play. It was a cool moment - one of several, actually - where Manson was visibly moved by the experience of being there with everyone. So thank YOU, Garbage, for seeing things so clearly and making it such a rewarding experience for your fans.

  • Shouts to Chandler, a big Garbage fan that got the night off to come see them play after meeting Manson at the restaurant where he works. I won’t get into the whole story here, but it was good, Manson told it well, and hey, you know what, good for Chandler. What a lovely experience that must have been for him.


Closing out the night in grand fashion - with 10 members, a bunch of fake flowers, one disconcerting cardboard cutout of what I’m assuming was someone associated with UK football (pardon my ignorance here), and an all-around British stage presence - Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds was an odd, sort of surreal live experience. Gallagher, and several other members of the group, were part of the band Oasis, the volatile Britpop/rock band who currently live on in karaoke bars around the world. After their dissolution in the late 00’s, Gallagher started this particular solo project. Alternating between sort of whimsical 60’s and early 70’s inspired orchestral pop and folks and surging rock tunes, the first part of the band’s set was focused on lighter, dare I say more airy fare, which then transitioned to some of their more rock oriented tracks. I hadn’t listened to them beforehand - I like to be surprised by something new to me - so I didn’t really know what to expect.

Gallagher’s presence was the same as it ever was, I guess - British, a bit aloof, not quite business-like, but you know, an “attitude,” which I found fascinating. The other members of the band were fun to watch - the drummer was obviously having a great time, the backup singers brought a bit of old school flair with their choreographed movements, there were a lot of keyboards, and when the moment called for it, some really lovely melodies sung together by everyone with a microphone. They sounded fantastic. For everything going on with each of their songs - and there was a lot - they were expertly crafted and played, nothing got lost in the mix, and they were varied enough after a certain point to keep everyone invested.

To the folks in the crowd yelling about playing Oasis songs or whatever it was they were trying to do with UK football chants, though, yuck. No fun. And I can’t imagine that’s enjoyable for the band, is it? But I digress…

All-in-all, it was a superb night of rock and roll. Getting to see Metric was a really special thing for me, Garbage was awesome, and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds put together a fun set that really tied it all together. It was a hell of night to be a fan of just about everything in Cincinnati. I’m glad that I got to spend it at Riverbend with my partner and those bands.

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds / Garbage

Open Album


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Cincinnati, you did it. You really did it. 

Cincinnati has a lot to offer and I like to think, no, believe, that even more good things are on the way. I really hope this weekend was our first gigantic step towards that future. And I really hope that those who didn’t feel like joining in this time around will the next time.