Thursday 17 February 2011

Feeder, The Assembly, Leamington Spa

Tonight, Feeder for the second time in four days. We’re in Leamington Spa, which is a very pleasant old town. So nice in fact, that it makes you wonder why they let the students invade. The venue is called ‘The Assembly’, which opened its doors as a concert venue only in 2008 after a multi-million pound redevelopment that was designed by Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen but we won't hold that against it.

Originally built in 1926, and called The Bath Assembly Hall, it was the place to go for your Foxtrot, your Waltz or your Quickstep. I only half know what they are, I read it on their website. It was later renamed ‘The Palais de Danseand’ and claims to have invented ‘The Palais Glide’. Now I’ve heard of that.

Like a lot of old dance halls and theatres it had most recently been a bingo hall. It’s good to see it now being put to better use, although it seems very quiet tonight compared with Rock City on Monday, although also sold out.

Love Amongst Ruin are first to take to the salubrious Art-Deco surroundings. Love Amongst Ruin were founded by Steve Hewitt, former drummer and songwriter with Placebo. He has teamed up with Julian Cope’s former right hand man Donald Ross Skinner, so this five-piece has something going for it already and interest for me.

The results, however, are nothing like Placebo or Cope’s music for that matter. Their sound is quite heavy, the songs quite sad or perhaps it’s just that Hewitt has a sad anguished sort of face.

Their cover of Thin Lizzy's ‘Got To Give It Up’ is dedicated to the deceased Lynott and Moore and no longer to ‘an ex-friend of mine’ he tells us. Oooh is that a dig at his former band? He was sacked from Placebo. That it is their best moment perhaps isn't surprising.

Hewitt refers to ‘the mighty Feeder’ after every song. I’m not sure if he’s trying to be ironic or not. I mean Placebo were pretty big themselves.

Then when they finish with a track called ‘Home’ I wonder if there could be some kind of weird symmetry about to happen here...

And so it proves as Feeder tonight open with ‘Home’. 'Home' makes a good opener. In fact I would go as far to say it sounds better there. Then I realise I owe apologises to ‘Insomnia’, which I dissed a bit on Monday. It was deadly tonight.

A change of opener isn’t the only flirtation with the set list tonight. Shock horror. Feeder shuffle set list. A bit. ‘This Town’ and ‘Sentimental’ swap positions, which is daring stuff for Feeder. Who says they don’t vary the set list enough? Oh yeah. It was me wasn’t it.

Grant aborts ‘Feeling A Moment’ and then restarts it. Not totally sure why, it sounded ok first time to me.

‘Renegades’ is again ace but then I reckon the sound is really good here, better than Rock City even but my partner disagree. So perhaps it’s just me. It’s a good venue though with a really high stage.

There are shouts again from the crowd for ‘Turn’, maybe one day.

Of the singles, ‘Seven Days In The Sun’ again stands out. ‘Buck Rogers’, which precedes it, again gets worked over by its bigger brasher ‘Echo Park’ brother.

There’s good news in that ‘White Lines’ is back; it has been missed and is the best of the ‘Renegades’ stuff tonight. Then Grant announces ‘one for the old school....’ which is only ‘High’, of course.

The encore remains the same. I reckon ‘Tumble And Fall’ is in to show off Damon’s drumming. He does do a great intro to it. He is again resplendent in shorts and something that looks like a dog collar but not much else.

At the end after another cracking rendition of ‘Breed’, my partner catches a plectrum and I, finally, after 25 years of trying, get a drum stick. What a pair of groupies.

Monday 14 February 2011

Feeder, Rock City, Nottingham

Is there something going on between Morning Parade and Feeder. The only other time I’ve seen Morning Parade is supporting Feeder (playing as Renegades) in Sheffield last year. The Essex boys, lead by a man called Sparrow, Steve Sparrow, seem to have honed their sound since then and have become the ‘next big thing’ or one of them. Probably the kiss of death really.

They have a range of styles but seem to have cut back on the keyboards a touch and the guitars are a bit more prominent tonight, although some of their tracks do still border on dance rhythms. Technically they are a very capable band but for a new band they come over as perhaps a bit too polished. Lacking in rough edges if you like, this oddly makes them less interesting.

Their new single ‘A&E’ is a good example; it’s powerful and catchy but still lacking in a certain something. They’re certainly not sparing in the effort they put in but after forty minutes of them, it feels like overkill and I’m ready for the main event.

Enthused by the re-emergence of 'Yesterday Went Too Soon' and latterly 'My Perfect Day' on the last tour before Christmas, together with Taka twittering that some 'Silent Cry' stuff could appear on this tour and also Grant appearing to be up for playing something like 'Turn' after it got requested last year, once they'd practiced it, made this a tour not to be missed. So tickets were purchased for two gigs, my home town Nottingham and for Son's university abode of Leamington. So, all set up for disappointment then.

Feeder are without doubt a brilliant live band, one of the best, but also, sadly, one of the most predictable. So it actually kind of looked promising when a roadie came out a few minutes before showtime and started manually altering the setlist with a pencil. Indecision in the ranks? Perhaps they'd suddenly remembered something and were about to revive one of the many underperformed classics they have buried in their hugely impressive back catalogue.

As the ‘The Good, The Bad And The Ugly’ fades out we soon find out what the alteration was. Fears 'Barking Dogs' may have barked its last are unfounded as it is reinstated as the show opener after giving way to ‘Home’ for most of the tour dates so far. This, in fact, transpires as a bonus for the Nottingham public, as ‘Home’, a particular favourite of mine, still appears later in the set.

'Insomnia' is next, still a belter, although I thought a little off colour tonight. Perhaps it needs a holiday. They could always play one of the other belters from the same album.

Did I mention Feeder were a bit predictable... The first ten tracks arrive in exactly the same order as this did during the last tour back in October. So no freshening up there then. Five of those are ‘Renegades’ tracks, tracks which continue to sound great live, and the crowd do seem to appreciate them. There are no substitutions for ‘Silent Cry’ tracks, which would have made no difference to the majority of the crowd who probably haven't got either album.

Buried in amongst them are some of the hits from the ‘Comfort In Sound’ and ‘Pushing The Senses’ eras, odd bed fellows amongst the likes of ‘This Town’, for which Taka’s heavy bass reverberates across the floor towards us.

We do have a change behind the drum kit. Karl Brazil has gone AWOL, or rather he’s on tour with James Blunt, who apparently gets first call and probably, no offence guys, pays more. His replacement is session drummer, Damon Wilson and he's seems to mean business with his shirt off from the start. In fact, if anything, he possibly tries too hard at times. I just hope he’s got a good supply of the free water, like we have. Saves paying £4 a pint.

'Seven Days In The Sun' finally breaks the familiar sequence and makes it into the main set, which means at least the encore has been refreshed. Grant likes his teasing intros and seems to be introducing them to most tracks these days... ‘Buck Rogers’... ‘Renegades’... ‘Seven Days’ has one of the best. ‘Come Back Around’ follows and deserves a mention for sounding particularly awesome tonight.

The only ‘Renegades’ track to go out is 'White Lines', back in comes 'We Can't Rewind', which must surely be a family favourite or something. It’s the only old non-single they seem to play.

'High' which often flits in and out of the sets, is in on this tour. I’ve not actually heard ‘High’ for ages, so it’s good to hear it tonight.

The refreshed encore kicks off with (holds head in hands) ‘Tumble And Fall’. An oldie, true but not an inspired one. Then, nicely, a new track called 'Borders'. Which sounds, ironically, kind of 'Silent Cry' era-ish if you ask me...

The obligatory ‘Just A Day’ is followed by a terrific cover of Nirvana’s ‘Breed’. Obviously a personal favourite of Mr Nicholas’s but still obviously not a patch on how a certain underperformed classic from the first album used to close sets.

So no 'Yesterday Went Too Soon' or 'My Perfect Day' then but still a nine out of ten gig, with brownie points included for a decent t-shirt. Not enough bands do a tour t-shirt complete with dates these days, so that was enthusiastically purchased. See you in Leamington and, Grant, you know what you have to do for a ten.