Noel Gallagher, Garbage, and Metric's Mann Center show was a mixed bill in more ways than one - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Hot take: Noel Gallagher’s eponymous “Birds” didn’t fly anywhere near as high as Emily Haines’ and Shirley Manson’s bands did on Friday.

The Mann Center’s doors opened early that night, for a triple-bill, and less than an hour later Haines was off to the races with Metric, pitting her loud-and-shimmering synth-pop discotheque against the fading summer daylight. An abbreviated stage time condensed their set to a lean nine selections, spotlighting more recent records but still designed to crowd-please. Haines led the way through the indictments of “Gold Guns Girls,” the dystopian doom of “Dark Saturday” and “All Comes Crashing,” and the pulsing pleas of “Gimme Sympathy,” “Help I’m Alive,” and “Breathing Underwater” – poignantly pausing the latter toward the end for a tribute and heartfelt note of thanks for Manson’s kinship throughout the tour.

Metric | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Following suit, Garbage opened with a commanding performance of “Supervixen,” leading off a co-headlining set of fifteen tracks that only got stronger from there. Favorite ‘90s hits like “Stupid Girl,” “Special,” and “I Think I’m Paranoid” were mixed with more recent showstoppers like “The Men Who Rule The World” and “Wolves” from their latest record No Gods No Masters, and a killer cover of Siouxsie And The Banshees’ “Cities In Dust.”

Garbage | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

And then, just as the dust settled and the glow of embers was beginning to dim, the Mann’s full house lights were curiously flipped back on, completely killing the groove. Squinting fans looked around awkwardly, while a whole crew of stage hands and techs wheeled in a whole elaborate set full of equipment and paraphernalia. They brought out instruments and stands for The Birds’ myriad musicians. They brought not one, but two stupid life-size cutouts of Man City’s manager Pep Guardiola. They brought a whole big rack of blossoming flowers. They dressed the place up as nicely as they could.

Gallagher and his gang populated the stage promptly and without a word of hello eased into four in a row from their latest record, Council Skies, now barely a month old. They followed with “We’re On Our Way Now,” a previously unreleased track tacked onto a greatest-hits double-album curated by a relatively young band with barely four albums’ worth of music from which to choose great hits to begin with: Back The Way We Came, Volume I – because of course, one could only be left to presume, more deluxe volumes of great hits are sure to soon follow. Insert several eye-roll emojis here.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

After two more Birds’ tunes, Gallager sharply inflected the setlist, clearly capitulating to the main reason people in their Man-City tees stuck it out on a sticky summer night: a handful of better-known Oasis covers including “Live Forever” and “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” punctuated by a cover of Manfred Mann’s 1968 cover of a Bob Dylan’s “Quinn The Eskimo (Mighty Quinn).”

“Quinn” was maybe the only interesting thing Gallagher did all evening, leaving the rest of an innocuous set feeling frankly a little thin against the two towering performances that preceded. The famously ornery frontman sounded, as usual, like a Beatles tribute band without any real teeth.

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