Backed by a crisp, drama-free four-piece, Gallagher took the stage with his trademark modish haircut and untucked button-down shirt and launched into a pair of deep-cut Oasis tracks, "Mucky Fingers" and "(It's Good) to be Free" (its title no doubt a not-so-subtle shot across the bow of the Good Ship Liam).
From there he tucked into the new album, which, like everything Gallagher writes, is proudly beholden to his record collection: "Everybody's on the Run," with its canned backing choir reminiscent of "You Can't Always Get What You Want"; the Kinks-ian "Dream On"; and the Sgt. Pepper-esque "The Death of You and Me," with its lilting falsetto and swirly, kaleidoscopic keyboard flourishes evoking visions of village greens dotted with tangerine trees under marmalade skies.
But the new material was routinely outclassed by the A-list Oasis songs, which were reconfigured in arresting ways, most notably a hushed "Supersonic" accompanied only by acoustic guitar, tambourine, and Doors-y organ fills. On "Wonderwall," Gallagher's earnest vocal inflections telegraphed a tenderness and vulnerability absent in his brother's venomous sneer. And on the majestic "Don't Look Back in Anger," which closed out the night, Gallagher's foggy tenor was buttressed on every word by 2,900 backup singers stretching from the lip of the stage to the back row of the top balcony.
Gallagher seemed happy just to be here now, occasionally wringing self-effacing humor out of his trademark imperial hubris. When a woman in the front row informed him that she'd named her son after him, he asked her if "he was as handsome as me" before contemplating aloud the possibility that in 20 years, his namesake would take his place on the Academy of Music stage.