Noel Gallagher, Russell Brand and Co Rock Koko
Noel Gallagher was joined onstage by his idol Paul Weller at a charity gig featuring a host of Britpop stars past and present at Koko in Camden last night.
The night was organised and compered by tabloid-friendly comedian Russell Brand to raise money for drugs charity Focus 12.
Referring to his own drug-addled past, Brand said: “I used to get drugs off people, now I’m trying to get people off drugs. I won’t bore you with the fact that this is about raising money for charity, though, mainly because the room smells like cannabis and cocaine.”
Wearing four-inch heeled boots and hair somewhere between Captain Hook and the Earl of Rochester, the flamboyant comic stayed unusually quiet all night, preferring to let the music take centre stage.
But Noel’s notorious younger brother Liam threatened to steal the show before a note had been played. The chants of “Liam! Liam!” rang around the room when the side-burned singer appeared on a balcony, goading the crowd and throwing water and plastic cups onto the heads below.
North London hopefuls The Holloways opened proceedings with their folky, tuneful pop, given a country lilt by some dextrous fiddle playing, but the chants of “Oasis” throughout their set made it clear what the crowd wanted.
They were followed by Carl Barat’s Dirty Pretty Things, who were last-minute replacements for Kasabian.
Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess, a long-time friend of the Gallaghers, joined them for raucous versions of “Deadwood” and “Bang Bang You’re Dead”.
DPT returned the favour, accompanying Burgess on a lively run-through of The Charlatans’ 1997 hit “North Country Boy”.
When he finally arrived onstage to deafening cheers, accompanied by bandmate Gem Archer on electric guitar, Noel opened with the rarely performed “(Its Good) to Be Free” and treated the faithful to an acoustic set of hits, album tracks and B-sides such as “Slide Away”, “Listen Up”, “Half the World Away” and a faithful rendition of the Beatles’ 1967 masterpiece “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
Noel told the crowd Kasabian guitarist Serge Pizzorno was suffering from laryngitis or “something pretentious like that” before dedicating “Cast No Shadow” to him.
Mod legend Weller appeared half-way through Noel’s set to sing his 2005 solo single “Come On/Let’s Go” and the classic Jam song “Thick as Thieves” from the band’s 1979 album Setting Sons, but the crowd’s reaction was only luke-warm.
Noel clearly enjoyed playing with the modfather but cries for “Champagne Supernova”, the 1995 Oasis track on which Weller played lead guitar, went ignored.
Noel stormed from the stage during the encore of “Married With Children”, frustrated by a technical problem, leaving a flustered Brand struggling to keep the throng happy (“it’s the machines, I tell you, they’re against us. You’ve all seen Terminator 2!”) but it was only minutes before the Mancunian’s rapturous return.