When I arrived at the Huntington Bank Pavilion Tuesday evening, I had no idea who the headliner was. Noel Gallagher rose to fame as the lead singer of Oasis. Oasis split up in 2009, and his new band - Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - has had success in the UK and Europe but has not equaled that popularity in the US. Garbage filled arenas during their heyday of the 1990s, but these days find their greatest commercial success outside the US.
It turned out that Noel Gallagher was the headliner. But the show did not begin with Garbage. Rather, Metric - a hard-rocking band from Toronto featuring the angelic vocals of Emily Haines – opened the night's entertainment with an entertaining set.
Garbage took the stage next. Although lead singer Shirley Manson hails from Scotland, the group has upper Midwest roots. They formed in Madison, WI in 1993. Manson's energetic vocals contrast with her voice between songs as she charmed the crowd and voiced her love of Chicago, which the band visits every year. They played for an over an hour before announcing they had to cut the set short due to poor air quality (fires in Canada drifted smoke across the northern US) and Manson's asthma.
For Noel Gallagher, stagehands placed dozens of live flower arrangements around the stage. Gallagher played mostly acoustic guitar, switching to electric occasionally. His songs have an energy and a lot of lyrical complexity. He let the music do most of the talking, addressing the crowd sparsely between songs. The audience was on its feet most of the night, singing along. The show's first half featured the music of High Flying Birds, while the final half dozen songs were from Gallagher's Oasis days.
The band closed with a singalong of Bob Dylan's "Quinn The Eskimo," followed by a rousing rendition of "Don't Look Back in Anger."
While The Flying Birds did not return to the stage for an encore, it was a full night. Three bands, a smoky sky, and three excellent sets left the audience satisfied.