Though it wasn’t officially billed as one, Thursday’s show at the Midland theater featured co-headliners.
Snow Patrol played the evening’s final slot, but it was clear that many of the 1,300 or so fans were there to see the second of three bands: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
Gallagher was the main songwriter, lead guitarist and singer with the British rock band Oasis, which called it quits in 2009. This year he launched the Birds, his first post-Oasis project. Oasis hadn’t been in Kansas City since a show at Memorial Hall in 1994, so there was plenty of anticipation among the group’s fans.
He is touring off the Birds’ self-titled first album, a collection of songs that bear many of the traits of his Oasis material: big guitars, lovelorn lyrics, thick harmonies and sweet, sticky melodies. His hour-long set featured several Birds tracks, but not before he fed the early arrivals a treat: “It’s Good to be Free,” an Oasis B-side. (It appeared some people were surprised by Gallagher’s 8:10 p.m. start, apparently figuring he was the headliner.)
From there Gallagher and his band turned to the “Birds” album, starting with “Everybody’s On the Run,” a gust of British anthem-rock with a slight psychedelic accent, then “Let the Lord Shine a Light on Me” and “If I had a Gun,” a heart-on-the-sleeve love ballad (“If I had a gun/I’d shoot a hole in the sun/And love would burn this city down for you.”)
But Gallagher was happy to indulge those who came to hear songs from the band that made him (and his brother, Liam) famous and infamous. The acoustic version of “Wonderwall” was nice; the closer, “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” now 17 years old, generated lots of singing and faraway, nostalgic gazes.
Gallagher also tossed in some lesser-known songs and B-sides: “Talk Tonight” and “(I Wanna Live in a Dream in my) Record Machine,” an Oasis song that appears on the “Birds” album. Throughout his set, he was crusty but congenial, chatting and sparring lightly with his crowd up front. It wasn’t an Oasis show, but for those of us who never saw his band, it was a satisfying substitute.
Thursday’s show was the fourth time in five years or so that Snow Patrol has performed in Kansas City. A couple of those shows, especially its first at the Uptown Theater, were exceptional. They are a suitable paring with Gallagher’s band; their music shares some of the same traits. Gary Lightbody, the band’s lead singer, is a dynamic frontman, the type who can rev up a crowd and stoke the mood inside a big room.
Things were going well for about a half-dozen songs, including “Hands Open,” “Take Back This City” and “This Isn’t Everything You Are.” Then something went awry on stage. Lightbody was clearly flustered and distressed, and the band continued to perform a half-acoustic set, he without his guitar. A few times technicians came on stage trying to fix what was wrong. After the show, Lightbody’s Twitter message said: “Thanks Kansas City for your warmth. It wasn’t the show we wanted to give you but after the guitar systems went down we gave you all we had.”
To the band’s credit, it made the best of a situation that otherwise could have ended the show. Instead it delivered a few of its big numbers, such as “Chasing Cars” and “Just Say Yes.” There was even an encore: “Life-ning.”
In the end, Snow Patrol played an 11-song set that lasted a bit more than an hour. Lightbody apologized a for what happened and thanked the crowd for its patience. But it’s unlikely too many people who were there will look back on this night in anger or as a complete disaster. The other headliner made certain of that.| Timothy Finn, The Star