Rock stars often avoid their hometown mass transit like the plague. But not ex-Oasis mastermind Noel Gallagher, who happily has been riding the London tubes to rehearsals for his new combo Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, who appear in The City on Saturday.
“Nobody notices me at all, nobody gives a s—,” says the beetle-browed guitarist, who slightly resembles his scrappier kid brother (and former Oasis frontman) Liam. “But I’ll have the odd person come up to me and say, ‘Excuse me, are you … are you Liam Gallagher?’ And I’ll say ‘No, I’m positive I’m not.’ And they’ll say ‘oh well, you sure look like him — nice to meet you anyway!’”
So fame is how you view it, says Gallagher, who permanently left Oasis in 2009 after a backstage dust-up with his sibling. (Liam and the remaining members soldiered on as Beady Eye.)
“I guess a person in my position could perceive themselves to be quite famous, but I don’t,” he says. “A few weeks ago, I was in the supermarket queue with a big bag of groceries, and some guy goes, ‘Whoa, what are you doing here?’ And I looked at him and thought, ‘Are you some kind of f—— smartass? I’m not waiting for a taxi, am I? I’m doing my shopping!’ I cannot express just how much of a normal life I lead.”
Gallagher’s just-released debut, “Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds,” the first of two post-Oasis albums he has completed, is equally unpretentious.
It opens with a sweeping strings-choir anthem “Everybody’s on the Run,” segues into vaudevillian toe-tappers like “Dream On” and “The Death of You and Me,” a tribal-stomping “AKA…What A Life,” and closes with a 10-year-old Oasis-era ballad, “Stop the Clocks.”
All are sung in Gallagher’s warm, neighborly style; the recording is easily his strongest, most humalong-memorable work in years.
Lyrically, the record feels pugnacious, defiant.
“But it’s not really about one person against the world,” says Gallagher, 44, who just married his longtime girlfriend Sara MacDonald.
“If anything, it’s me and the person I love against the world, definitely an album about a partnership.”
But he and Liam won’t be teaming up anytime soon. “I have a failing as a human being — I don’t like to forgive people,” he says. “And when Liam finally gets ’round to getting on his knees and apologizing? Then he can go and f— himself, after that.”
Is that what set these brothers apart — one loved the spotlight, the other loathed it? Could be, Noel says. “But the other difference is, Liam still thinks he’s got something to prove,” he says. “Whereas I don’t.”
IF YOU GO
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $39.50 to $75
Contact: (888) 929-7849, www.AXS.com