Feeder At The Academy – Review
At the turn of the millennium, Welsh rockers Feeder looked primed to take their place at rocks high table, a string of uptempo feelgood singles like ‘Seven Days In The Sun’ marked them out as a poppy, major-key take on Nirvana. They had the mainstream crossover hits too, with ‘Buck Rodgers’ and ‘Just A Day’ making regular appearances on the type of ‘Drivetime Rock’ compilation CDs advertised around Father’s Day every year. While the tragic death of original drummer Jon Lee in 2002 would have finished a lesser band, the two remaining members emerged from this period with a more mature, reflective sound, and subsequent albums Comfort In Sound marked Feeder out as genuine stadium contenders. However, the past few years have seen the hits dry up and the venue sizes slightly downgraded as the band returned to their rock roots with recent albums Renegades and Generation Freakshow heavy on crunching riffs but light on big singles. After a four year hiatus the band have recently returned to the fold and with new album All Bright Electric, an excellent fusion of their heavier and softer styles, released a week prior to tonight’s show, there is a sense of a band making up lost ground.
Kicking off in quiet fashion, new ballad ‘Another Day On Earth’ is atmospheric and melodic, nicely complemented by the forest imagery adorning the video screen backdrop. The blistering ‘Universe Of Life’ ups the tempo dramatically with some excellent Dave Grohl-esque drumming as the band showcase their versatility from the off. 2005 hit single ‘Feeling a Moment’, is cut from the same anthemic cloth as All That You Can’t Leave Behind-era U2, fusing wall-of-sound guitars with stadium-friendly hooks in one of the band’s most timeless songs. Having mixed and matched their onstage lineup over the years, tonight’s 5-piece live setup brings both old and new material to life, with the studio renditions perfectly recreated by the addition of both a lead guitarist and keyboardist.
The terrific ‘Pushing The Senses’ shows just how tight a unit Feeder are, never missing a beat over the song’s four relentless minutes. Grungy new single ‘Eskimo’ is light years from the band’s trademark uptempo power pop, with an altogether darker lyrical hue as frontman Grant Nicholas sings of how he “shook the devil by the hand, stole the whiskey from the mouth of a broken man”. Vastly underrated in their back catalogue, piano ballad ‘Tender’ is even more moving in its live incarnation and stands out amongst the softer more reflective music the band was making in the mid 2000’s. Once again, the band shapeshift in style with the crushingly heavy new album cut ‘Geezer’ sounding like Limp Bizkit in their darker moments. Keeping the true classics for the latter third of the set, Feeder put together a pulsating closing section with ‘Just The Way I’m Feeling’, ‘Buck Rodgers’, ‘Seven Days In The Sun’, and the pop-metal bounce of ‘Just A Day’ ending the show in spectacular fashion.
Although Feeder may never reached the arenas their music was aiming for, they’ve still managed to sell an impressive 5 millions records over the course of a near-20 year career, becoming the quintessential festival band in the process. And while they may have lacked the charisma of some of their contemporaries, they have nevertheless built up an envious back-catalogue most modern bands can only dream of. One only has to look at what songs don’t make tonight’s set (‘Shatter’, ‘Turn’, ‘Tumble and Fall’, ‘Comfort In Sound’, ‘Forget About Tomorrow’, ‘Find The Colour’, ‘Save Us’) to realise how impressive their repertoire really is. Whilst their knack for writing a pop hook may have slightly diminished over time, with a new album that’s easily their strongest in a decade and a formidable reputation as a live act, tonight’s performance proves there’s plenty of life in Feeder yet.