Music Critic Bas Bevan applauds Feeder’s ability to combine new and older tracks to create an unpredictable and appealing setlist for life-long fans and new-comers
After their eleventh studio album Torpedo was released in March, Feeder came to the O2 Institute in Birmingham on May the 5th. On the album, they returned more towards their heavier, earlier sound from their first few albums whilst still keeping the well-loved elements they have become known for. According to frontman Grant Nicholas the tour was also going be reminiscent of their early years. With their huge catalogue of songs to choose from it promised to be an entertaining night.
The opening acts King Herd and The Wild Things were really good choices for the slots as they had great stage presence and it was clear from the crowd’s enjoyment that they did a great job of warming them up. Renowned session drummer Karl Brazil who also plays on Feeder’s albums was in King Herd who were quite a heavy band from Birmingham. The Wild Things on the other hand had more of a classic, bluesy sound but both were very charismatic and enjoyable.
When Feeder came on they started with ‘The Healing’ – the opening track from Torpedo. The song’s warm and positive sound is quite typical of the album and Feeder’s sound generally, and its different sections including its big chorus and heavy middle part as well as the varied instrumentation made it an interesting opener. The show’s focus was very much on the new album with the band playing more songs from it than any of their other records. ‘Born to Love You’ and ‘When It All Breaks Down’ were similar songs that they played which, along with the rest of Torpedo, fitted in well with their older material and were just as appreciated by the crowd.
Torpedo had been described as quite a heavy record compared to some of the band’s other efforts and this was reflected in their set. Both ‘Magpie’ and ‘Torpedo’ brought a darker feel compared to the more upbeat songs that Feeder played and sounded huge in the O2 Institute. ‘Torpedo’ does become more light-hearted in the chorus but ‘Magpie’, which the fans could be heard singing along to, only becomes more eerie. Seeing some of Feeder’s different material live, like these tracks, only made them more interesting.
One of the best songs that they played was ‘Feeling A Moment’ from their fifth album Pushing The Senses. Its lyrics are more personal and emotional than the frustration that is expressed on Torpedo and the crowd singing the chorus “How do you feel when there’s no sun?/ And how do you feel when rain clouds come and pull you down again?” and the “woo oo oo” parts made it quite a powerful moment. It was also good to hear a song that was different to many of the heavier ones they played and made the crowd’s love of the band easy to see. Another fan favourite was ‘Just The Way I’m Feeling’ from 2002’s Comfort In Sound. Like ‘Feeling A Moment’ it is a more gentle song starting with just a strummed guitar which builds up into a signature, Feeder-style chorus. Although they clearly enjoyed the songs from the new album, the crowd’s jubilation when they played some of their most loved tracks was great to see and clearly meant a lot to the band and everyone else in the room. The reception for ‘High’, the biggest song from their first album, was possibly even better. The joy amongst the fans was again clear to see and when they let them sing the chorus at the end it was one of the best moments of the show.
As well as playing many songs from Torpedo the band played a few from their previous album Tallulah. The album was well received when it was released in 2019 and this was apparent in the crowd’s reaction to the songs. One of the best was ‘Fear of Flying’ which was one of the first quite fast paced tracks that they played and frontman Grant Nicholas made it even more entertaining by getting the crowd to sing part of the chorus for him. The purple and green lights that were used during the songs which matched the colours of the album cover were also a nice touch. The concert more generally featured really dynamic and interesting coloured lights that added to the performance without taking any attention away from it. There were also no screens on the stage, just the image from the cover of Torpedo, which emphasised the focus on the songs even more.
Towards the end of the show they played ‘My Perfect Day’, ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Godzilla’ which are three of their more energetic and heavier songs which got the crowd moshing and were a break from the seriousness of some of the new tracks. There was also the added excitement of them being older songs which were not obvious ones for the band to play. This was another great part of the performance as they used the similar style of the songs from Torpedo to work some of their early ones into the set.
Feeder came back on for the encore with two of their most successful tracks. They originally were not going to play their biggest hit ‘Buck Rodgers’ on the tour but decided to play it for the fans who had bought Echo Park, with it being the album’s 21st anniversary on the day that the tour started. The song’s really fun lyrics and big chorus, which everyone jumped up and down to, made the atmosphere great. The excitement at hearing it live could be seen in everyone and it felt like the show would not have been complete without it. The final song they played was ‘Just A Day’ which was the perfect ending to the night. Like ‘Buck Rodgers’, it is a really exciting, high–energy song which is a favourite amongst fans. The crowd sung the “do do do do” part along with Grant’s guitar at the start before they started moshing and euphorically shouting the words. The last songs they played showed what is so great about Feeder’s music as it radiates nothing but happiness and had brought people together that clearly have loved them for many years.
The show that Feeder put on was fantastic and was everything you could hope for from a rock concert. There was an obvious connection between the band and their fans that has been built over many years and the more intimate venue of the O2 Institute only strengthened this. They managed to blend the stages of their career together by playing many songs from the new album but also a lot of the hits that people wanted to hear as well as some older songs that they have not played for a while, creating a setlist that was unpredictable and appealed to everyone there. The positivity of Feeder’s music flooded throughout the room and hearing the crowd belting out the big choruses and seeing them eagerly jumping around created many special moments. Feeder’s personality, musicianship and ability to recreate the studio sound of their songs are the things that have made them a great live band for such a long time and the performance was an excellent showing of this and the quality and feeling of their entire discography.
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