18th November 2012, Academy 1
In reminiscence and anecdote, it’s often the case that one can hit a nerve, causing an uncomfortable resonance. For Feeder’s vocalist and guitarist Grant Nicholas this comes late in his band’s set when he introduces the recent single ‘Idaho’, and remarks to the packed out room: ‘back in the 90’s, when there was good music’. It’s in this jocularity that one’s reminded of the sheer irrelevance of Feeder, who’ve long since had their day. Few recall their activity in the 90’s, before they shook off their Radiohead impression and created beauty out of tragedy in the form of ‘Comfort in Sound’, their most creative and commercial peak. The ten years since then have been successful to the point where they have a solid crowd supporting them and no need to be at the forefront of British guitar-rock. It is in this context that we meet them at the Academy, touring to support their latest album ‘Generation Freakshow’.
Feeder kick off with opener ‘Oh My’, the same track which begins ‘Generation Freakshow’, a track reliant on the formula the band have spent years crafting: quiet-loud structure, straightforward lyrics and an anthemic quality, perhaps better suited to venues ten-times that of the Academy. Along with the flamboyant back screen, it suggests an uncomfortable yearning to return to the height of their fame all those years ago. Nicholas begins one of about three attempts at banter, of which he calls Manchester the band’s ‘second home’; red-meat to the largely greying crowd, who’ve turned up for a night of reliably hard rocking. All throughout the night, the band are given a warm reception, but that spikes intensely at several points. ‘Just The Way I’m Feeling’ is one of these, an elegant track on record but here lacking some of the atmosphere-building nuances which are paid off so well by the chorus. It morphs into a big rock track, which the house goes wild for. This is followed by Nicholas noting how he lost a ‘coin toss’, necessitating the band perform the following track: ‘Buck Rogers’. Again, uncomfortably resonant of the fact that Feeder are beyond obliged to play that ‘Godzilla’ of a hit live, so overdone by now it’s hard to see them going through anything but the motions. Nonetheless, this track again overworks many pacemakers in the room.
Many of of the younger fans in attendance go most wild upon hearing choice cuts from recent releases ‘Renegades’ and ‘Generation Freakshow’, leading up to the inevitable ‘ending’ and encore. Here, Feeder end with a fair mix of their catalogue. Recent single ‘Children of the Sun’ kicks off proceedings, again enlivening their crowd- particularly the fresher faced among them. That said, they do play their own official video in the background, something Lethal Bizzle would refer to as ‘a bit leave it.’ Up next is rarely heard early track ‘Sweet 16’, which elicits an almost excessive amount of jumping in an up-and-down fashion and fist-pumping (to the point of nearly banging out my +1). This track is played with an almost sloppy enthusiasm, far from the mechanistic play-through much of their set has been. With a death-like certainty, ‘Just A Day’ caps off the concert, with seemingly every mouth attending singing along to THAT riff; by almost the end, even the band are, leading to the insane idea that they’re having fun. In any case, Feeder set many middle-aged paces running and satisfied rose-tinted sentimentalists, but it’s hardly a cutting-edge, fan-gaining concert. It’s more of a celebration of a career while continuing to plod on until their music finally reaches its desired shade of beige.