Gig review: Feeder @ KOKO, 31/01/12

(This is a review for BBM Magazine, also available here:

Feeder might be the band that rock and roll forgot. Surpassed by their countrymen and contemporaries like Coldplay and Stereophonics, Grant Nicholas and Taka Hirose have fallen, somewhat, between the cracks in history’s floorboards, casually dropped down the back of her sofa, never really absorbed into the post-Britpop indie scene, nor the early-00s mainstream metal resurgence. And tonight’s crowd reflects this. A smorgasbord of faces and ages – 14 to 65, at a guess – make up all 5 tiers of KOKO’s gorgeous theatre. Fans of a band whose output spans twenty one years, there are the awkwardly dancing middle-aged, the hard-faced thirty-somethings, the swooning teens. A farrago, an apathy.

The show begins with gentle clapping more akin to golf tournament applause then frenzied exultation. T-shirted to hell they may be, but this crowd does not declare its love of Feeder with noise. Frontman Grant Nicholas takes to the stage alone, opening, idiosyncratically, with ‘Children of the Sun’, the final track of new album Generation Freakshow (Big Teeth) which is due out in April. Cordially received, he is joined by bassist Taka Hirose, now the only other constituent member of Feeder, and collaborator/session drummer Damon Wilson. Tearing through ‘This Town’ and ‘Renegades’ without so much as a breath of interaction with the audience, Nicholas and Hirose struggle to get KOKO’s feet moving. TV marketing joyride ‘Feeling The Moment’ lifts the balconies clean off the walls with cacophonies of ‘wooohhhh’. But ‘Sunrise’, despite sounding eerily like The Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind?’, is a disappointment. (At this point, about ten minutes of review material was lost to knee-wobbling nausea as the man in front of me shoved his hand down the front of his lady friend’s trousers. Sorry for going a bit gonzo. But you didn’t have to see it, did you?)

Then we get going. The chords that open ‘Just The Way I’m Feeling’ are beautiful, filling the theatre, that echo and reverb which is so much a part of Feeder’s live sound now paying off. The chorus is enormous, the sing-along seismic. Nicholas strums the opening chords of ‘Buck Rogers’ and stops. “We’re not playing that tonight,” he jokes, to boos and panto hisses. “It’s that fucking Lucozade ad, they ripped us off” – before the band burst in and the players and lemons get the floor bouncing. ‘Idaho’ and ‘Generation Freakshow’ hint at a new album with all the hooks and cute swagger of Echo Park (Echo, 2001), the fuzzy, frisky rock of Silent Cry (Echo, 2008). A re-appraisal of Feeder rather than a revolution.

It’s hard to see what Feeder do differently. Like the Foo Fighters, or Muse, one never has a craving to escape deeply into them, often merely to paddle. On the basis of tonight’s showcase, there is little that is profound about their new material. But encore tracks ‘High’ and the ever-tremendous ‘Just A Day’ remind everyone here that however loosely new skin may fit for the seasoned or casual fan of the Big Hits, multiple platinum-selling albums are rarely the accidents of history, and these are great songs, no matter how much history – from tonight’s evidence – has left Feeder behind.