Thursday, 21 October 2010

Feeder, Leeds Metropolitan University

Feeder re-emerged at the start of the year as Renegades and played two blindingly good low-key tours showcasing their new material. Now with an album of that name released they’re out to promote it but back under the Feeder banner.

The now familiar strains of ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ signal that this is going to be basically a Renegades show in all but name, but on a bigger scale and with the hits re-added to shut up the handful of hecklers who disrupted a few of those shows.

It’s also though, about bums on seats or more precisely feet on floors. Like a lot of bands they are finding that the records aren’t selling much but the gigs are. So the band are playing a lot of gigs at the moment and by the time their current schedule ends in March 2011 they will have played nearly 80 gigs in 15 months. Serious gigging and there's no sign they're done yet. Apparently have another album in the can, that may contain lighter material, though the band haven't confirmed this and to be honest Grant and Taka appear to love playing the heavier Renegades stuff so much. The record was originally rumoured to be out around now but it's now shelved until at least early next year, perhaps longer.

The band take to the stage, then seconds later ‘Barking Dogs’ launches itself out of the kennel and growls its arrival (sorry), opening the night in breathless fashion. A style that is typical of their new record.

If nothing else the Renegades experiment showed what a tight live band Feeder still are and you can hardly spot the join as they vault back eleven years for 'Insomnia'.

Like the opener, ‘Sentimental’ is also from that first Renegades ‘Black’ EP and its heavy chords continue the raucous theme. Feeder's new material has been a trip back to their dark side of old and a welcome one. A dark side of short, sharp, adrenalin fuelled tunes.

Even when they do show their lighter side, when the first of their two suicide infused power ballads arrives in the form of 'Feeling A Ooooh Ooooooh Ooooooh Moment', it’s as if the track has been taken out the back, given a bit of kicking and then let back on stage. It seems a much more intense animal tonight.

The band are just about still a three piece, although the keyboards are back for those softer moments, of which there aren’t that many but even then the keyboards are kept pretty much in the background.

‘Renegades’ itself, a track as good as anything they've ever done, with its subdued opening before it explodes into life, gets the crowd really jumping for the first time tonight and starting to appreciate this new/old Feeder sound.

Then just as the tone has been set, most of the big hits arrive in a clump in the middle with newbie 'Down To The Ooooh Ooooooh Ooooooh River' for company, and this disrupts the tempo a touch. Of the ‘big’ tunes, ‘Pushing The Senses’, which I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for, is the pick of the bunch. Pretty awesome tonight.

Karl Brazil is, with respect to Mark Richardson and the late Jon Lee, one of the ‘keenest’ drummers I’ve ever seen and he tries to leave the imprint of his drum kit on everything but I swear he was drumming something else, possibly ‘Home’, over the top of ‘Just The Way I'm Feeling’. Which has also been roughed up a bit at the edges but if anything comes out sounding a bit muddled.

Well ok, I don’t like it much anyway, the song grates on me but always has, though I can’t begrudge the band their moment. It’s such a sad song that draws heavily on Jon Lee's suicide. There’s also the fact, admittedly, that this song and the following one about drinking cider from a lemon get a very big crowd reaction.

Then we’re back to those heavy guitars for 'White Lines', so good they played it twice. Well the first verse anyway, after Grant messed up but I think he was the only one who noticed and then 'Home' which just seems to get faster each time they play it.

Throughout the show Taka Hirose prowls the stage with his bass guitar, showing no signs of his alleged passport problems. Apparently the Home Office don't believe he’s been living in this country since 1992... and if he went out of the country he may not get back in again. Which could cause a problem or two for the upcoming European Tour. Tonight though, he's seems to be an adopted Yorkshire man.

Unlike with ‘Silent Cry’, Grant seems to like their new record and pulls heavily on it tonight. Whereas on the tour for that album they played very few tracks from it live. So it’s no great surprise to hear nothing from that album tonight. Perhaps they’re trying to forget that record ever happened, which would be shame. Just one track tonight would have been a nice touch but Feeder never were big on surprises. Well until recently, when the Renegades tour briefly broke the mould.

The big moment for me comes after they close the set with ‘Call Out’ and return for the encore for which the crowd are already singing ‘da da da’. For God’s sake Grant just play the damn thing when they ask for it and don’t be so predictable by leaving it until the end. Better still, why not blow everyone’s mind and open with it or something. Encores should be for surprises.

I had mentally pencilled in a ‘predictable’ encore of ‘High’ followed by ‘Seven Days’ and that ‘da da da’ number but we do get a treat. Even a surprise if you like. ‘We’ve not played this one for a while’ he admits, as he lights up my evening with the wonderful ‘Yesterday Went Too Soon’, performed all too rarely. You see, it’s not difficult, I’m easily pleased. One more like that and they’ll be carrying me out on a stretcher.

Then he decides to ditch 'the big rock ending' he said they had planned (probably ‘Godzilla/The End’) and play some old ones instead. ‘Ooh good’ me thinks, fingers crossed for 'Sweet 16' and 'Descend' again, which were so wonderfully resurrected for those Renegades shows. Get that stretcher ready... but no. He means ‘Seven Days’ and that ‘da da da’ number. Well suppose they are old too, it’s been ten years now. Nothing from ‘Silent Cry’ is maybe understandable but nothing from either ‘Polythene’ or ‘Swim’ is just criminal.

That said it’s a lively finish, a good finish, sending the crowd into delirium and yes I do love ‘Just A Day’ as much as everyone else but it’s all a bit too predictable.

Still an excellent gig though. The Renegades stuff still sounds awesome and largely blends with the older stuff well. Now if Grant just had the conviction to draw on their amazing back catalogue a bit more, because he clearly has a liking for the grungier stuff, then we'd really be in business.

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