1999 was the last time Feeder played the little concert hall behind the Stag’s Head and now eleven years and five albums later Grant Nicholas, Taka Hirose return with their new drummer Karl Brazil, and with a rejuvenated sound that brings them back to their traditional post-grunge roots rather than the more Coldplay-esque sound that albums Comfort in Sound and Pushing the Senses bought to the fore.
Despite the fact it could always be fashionable to bash a band like Feeder, one that seems to have peaked and be unable to get any bigger than they already are, like Ash or The Charlatans, I find myself feeling this is unfair, the fact is despite them coming down from the dizzying highs of their popularity during the Echo Park to Pushing the Senses era. Feeder proved they still have an amazingly devoted fan base as they are still able to sell out gigs all over the country and with a queue all the way back to the Nuffield Theatre before door’s were supposed to even be open, they can still pull a crowd.
Three piece act Dinosaur Pile Up who I think can best be described as the lovechild of Weezer and Nirvana provided the support, putting in a pretty solid performance which while being nothing overly remarkable managed to get in the crowd into it and give a very confident and well put together performance. However everyone was there to see was Feeder, who were heralded to the stage by The Good, The Bad and The Ugly theme before hitting opening with a cut of their most recent album Barking Dogs sending the crowd into a frenzy and preparing them for the night ahead.
With seven albums all ranging in style from their punky post grunge roots, to pop rock, to softer and then heavier alternative, they obviously played a very varied set, featuring primarily material of their most recent album and surprisingly not a single track off 2008’s Silent Cry. I suppose this is a problem when you have a band playing such a small venue yet having so much material, they only have a certain amount of time so the die hard fans are never going to be wholly satisfied.
Despite the extremely positive reaction from the crowd, the band sometimes seeming drained and at points their musicianship was slightly sloppy, the most noticeable being during the performance of the track “Home” in which build up to chorus seemed to be butchered with none of the main vocal being performed, however you could argue this is down their lack of a touring guitarist so the whole pressure of the many parts being placed on Grant Nicholas.
But I think what really makes a performance is how well a band can connect with a crowd, and Feeder excel at this. After seeing them many times it always surprises me how much they manage to connect with the audience, the crowd to seem to love every minute of it, they know every word to every song and they are constantly chanting “Feeder, Feeder, Feeder”. I suppose this is the case with bands like Feeder who despite their modest success in the charts and with album sales, as I said before, they will always find a fantastically devoted fanbase ready to see them and make their gigs such an experience.
One comment though about the Venue, it has got to be, the most sticky and sweaty place I’ve ever been to a gig, made even worse by how much the crowd were into it. Take Hirose was helpful when he managed to get a box of bottled water and throw them into the crowd, it was the final night of October yet you still had people coming out with their shirts off or their clothes completely sodden.
So despite a few ropey moments Feeder put in a textbook performance, all in all pretty solid and satisfactory show, that upon consderation may have been better if it was longer allowing more of their massive range of tracks to be performed. However even with somewhat excusable problems such as sets restricted by curfew I do find myself saying I have seem then on better days, when they are more energetic and more polished. So while it was a pretty good showing thats all it was, good, not excellent or up their usual standard of quality. But to end with a cheesy one-liner, I suppose its good that on Halloween they were by no means horrifying in the slightest.