Long-time fan Chris Reed has a bone to pick with Noel Gallagher of Oasis fame, who is heading this way in the summer months.

Not only is he funny, friendly and unflinchingly honest, but it turns out Noel Gallagher is good at getting his excuses in early.

On Don't Look Back in Anger, one of two anthems that made Oasis, albeit briefly, the biggest band in the world, he sang: "Please don't put your life in the hands, of a rock 'n' roll band, who'll throw it all away."

That was 1995. I could have listened, but then I wouldn't have the story I've been waiting to get off my chest for more than six years.

It was 2009 and Oasis were in the last throes of a world tour. Noel was using his tour blog to predict dark times for the band.

Advertisement

If it was going to be their last tour, I wanted to be at their last gig. I booked tickets for the closing date, a one-day festival in Milan.

In the last week of August, I left Auckland for a six-day round-the-world trip via my parents' place on the outskirts of Manchester.

The day I flew from the UK to Milan, I woke to the news Noel had quit the band in Paris the night before, after another fight with brother Liam. It subsequently emerged the bust-up involved the latter throwing a plum.

Noel put out a statement apologising to anyone who'd bought tickets for the final three dates on the tour. I sulked and waited for the Visa bill.

Our interview, to promote the news he's returning to New Zealand for an Auckland show in March, was scheduled for only 15 minutes. I wasn't going to let that stop me settling a score.

He saw the punchline coming, a laugh of recognition building before I told him my mum suggested I write to him to complain.

"You said 'no, because I'm going to interview him one day and I'm going to tell him and he's going to f***ing laugh down the phone'. What can I say? I apologise. If you send in the receipt for your airline ticket you might well get it back one day."

Noel was last in Auckland in 2012, singing Don't Look Back in Anger to close the last set at what was expected to be the last Big Day Out - a "good laugh", he recalls.

Advertisement

Next year's visit is on the second leg of a mammoth tour to promote Chasing Yesterday, the second album by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, essentially a solo project with a touring band.

Both records are strong - the first, self-titled release went platinum in the UK, the second is already gold - Noel appearing revitalised without having to tiptoe through the minefield of a band dynamic, particularly one involving a fractious fraternal relationship.

British musician, Noel Gallagher.
British musician, Noel Gallagher.

The first phase of the tour, a mix of solo material peppered with Oasis classics, finished in the northern summer. Since then he's had plenty of time off and discovered a new way of writing a new album with a mystery producer.

"I've done about 16 days on it on and off. It's sounding pretty good I've got to say. Usually I go into the studio with about 25-30 songs already written. This time I went in with nothing at all, just a bag of FX pedals and a guitar and I'm writing in the studio for the first time and I'm finding it very inspiring."

Noel won't say who his new studio sidekick is but denies it's producer-du-jour Jamie xx.

Speculation was prompted by a "no comment". It was a rare one.

We talked days after the Isis attacks on Paris. Speaking from London, Noel was typically open.

"It really affected me this time. Usually I look at things and it's 'over there' and I don't overthink it but I've played the Bataclan. Me and my wife go to Paris regularly for weekends. I've walked those streets and that night it happened I had about 25-30 friends in the city. Thank God everybody was all right but I've had friends of friends who've been killed and it really touched me that it was music fans.

"Maybe it's getting to dawn on people that Europe is a little bit too liberal now in the way that people can get access to it. I, for one, would like our leaders across Europe to act like they're worthy of that title and stop all the rhetoric and actually do something about it instead of constantly reacting."

Does he ever regret being so honest?

"You answer a straight question with a straight answer. I've been doing this for 20-odd years and a lot of the things I've said have been blown out of proportion and don't look good in print but you can only mean what you say on the day.

"If you were to ask me six weeks from now about this thing in Paris, from a distance you may well have a different opinion. Sometimes I think I should really have said 'no comment' there, but f*** it, that's what I feel.

"A lot of modern pop stars don't have two things - a) an opinion and b) a personality. They can all sing and they can all do their f***ing shit but none of them can write songs and they've got f***-all to say for themselves. We were brought up with people who wrote songs and had stuff to say."

While mass mainstream interest in Oasis was short-lived in New Zealand, Noel (and Liam) remain big news in the UK, not least for their quotability.

When it comes to modern pop stars, Noel has never been shy of naming names. He meets the recipients of his verdicts "regularly". He can handle that.

"Say you say, 'I don't like Adele'. What you're trying to say is, 'I just don't like her music'. I don't mind Ellie Goulding, I think I've met her once. I don't like Ed Sheeran's music but I've met Ed Sheeran on more than one occasion and he's a good lad. Can't listen to his tunes though."

The world tour finally ends next summer, presumably with a swag of European summer festival dates.

"It's something I will never, ever, ever grow tired of. Loads of my mates are still stuck in Manchester, furthest they've ever been is Spain. I've been everywhere and it still fascinates me. It's great."

I met, extremely briefly, Noel in Manchester in 1990. He was working for Inspiral Carpets, a band lumped in with the Madchester phenomenon.

My memory's shot, but I can still recall the face that popped into view at the band's office. And then out again, almost as quickly "probably before they got me to do any work", he chuckles when I recall the incident.

British musician, Noel Gallagher.
British musician, Noel Gallagher.

He would have been writing songs then, probably some of those that sold 85 million Oasis albums and prompted stadium sing-alongs around the world. But whatever he hoped for, it was all to come.

What would that Noel say to the one of today, the one with rock elder statesman status, in the UK at least?

"I think he'd probably think, 'That's what I want to be like when I grow up'. You have to think that anyway. It's not like I'm sat in prison having been involved in a road rage accident and killed somebody. I did become one of the big rock stars. [I think] he'd have thought, 'You know what? Nice one, can't wait to get to know you'."

Who: Noel Gallagher
When and where: Playing Auckland's ASB Theatre on Thursday, March 24. Tickets on sale from 10am on Wednesday, December 9.