Rock icons, Feeder, returned to Belfast for a sold-out phenomena show in support of The Best Of Tour after last gracing us with their presence back in 2016. Casting my eyes through the crowd that evening there were a lot of familiar faces I recognised from that previous gig. A wildly varying age range could be seen all around me, but the bulk of the fans were prominently made up of balding men in their mid-forties wearing an assortment of knitted attire.
First on stage at Limelight 1 was local band, Brand New Friend, hailing from Castlerock. As soon as they dawned the stage with their fresh juvenile faces, it was clear they had an uphill battle ahead in order to please their elder audience. It was with a set full of an energetic flare, a determined and confident approach to their songs, and guitars hoisted higher up their bodies than Simon Cowell’s trousers that they were able to combat this age gap. They opened the night with “Mediocre At Best” off of their debut album Seatbelts For Airplanes followed by songs such as “I Was An Astronaut” and “Hate It When You Have To Go”. I cannot fault the band’s performance. Although their sound might not have catered directly to my specific musical tastes, they gave the performance everything as if their very careers hung in the balance.
Drummer Luke hammered away madly at his kit, bassist Aaron plucked away precisely at his instrument and Lauren kept us entertained with her strong support on keyboard and vocals. Frontman Taylor even took it one step further and beguiled us with an anecdote that had just happened mere moments before their opening song involving being thrust into Feeder’s dressing room rather awkwardly to use their toilet. There was a familiarity of sound between each song played, and they linked together quite neatly as if there was a definitive sound the group were striving for. All in all, I believe the band did well in warming up the crowd and capturing audience approval ahead of the Welsh legends taking the stage.
“Feeling A Moment” was the weapon of choice chosen by the group to open the night, a song which hit a personal note for me and one that was met with great reception by the audience as one of their more admired hits. It could only be excepted that such well-known songs would dominate the night, naturally being The Best Of Tour, but what the band had in store was nothing short of legendary.
Next up was one of my favourite tracks from the band which I recall nostalgically from Gran Turismo 4 was “Shatter”. Their performance of this was a true credit to the diversity and flexibility of Feeder’s live performances as they were able to put a different twist on it from the song we’d recognised from the album, adding in a brief clean guitar riff and putting a different tinge on the vocals. This approach was repeated throughout the night and helped revitalise some of the older songs we’ve been listening to over the last 21 years. It was clear in those 21 years that the band had not lost any of their magic with Taka and his towering mohawk bringing immense presence and swagger to his performance despite being somewhat obscured from the right-hand side of the hall hiding behind a large speaker.
“Piece By Piece” from Echo Park was another notable track of the night. Grant took the chance to dedicate this to the late great John Lee, being one of the last songs recorded with the drummer before his death in 2002. This tribute was met with a thunderous cheer of approval throughout the hall, and the song was delivered accordingly in a heartful and sincere manner.
After leaving the stage for a brief interlude to fetch some water and have a well-deserved breather, the crowd was greeted with a tune looping teasingly on the sound system. It was at that moment that my whole brain shut down and I was left reaming through my mind trying to remember what this mystery anthem was. I knew it was a popular track, I knew I had listened to it before and I knew it was indeed Feeder but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it; I had an utter mind blank. On returning to the crowd, the cloud of smoke that had formed above my head from my overheating brain finally dissipated as Grant announced the next track as “Eskimo” and opened with that same elusive riff. Perhaps it was the headbanging to blame.
Delving into the Feeder archives and back to the Polythene era again, after playing “Stereo World” previously that night, the band conjured up “My Perfect Day”. This like “Stereo World” is a great reminder that despite the mellower songs like “High” and “Children Of The Sun” that the band has always had that heavier, grungier sound to counteract those lighter, airier tracks. This was received by a belting reaction, especially from the older audience as the band reminded us why we started listening back in the 90’s and that original sound that rocketed them to fame.
After powerful renditions of “Borders” and “Just The Way I’m Feeling” the inevitability of the next song was unrivalled; it was of course “Buck Rogers”. Despite the fact, everyone knew this song had to be included to avoid audience disapproval it was still a pleasant surprise to hear that instantly recognisable opening riff greeting you as if an old friend. It was obvious from the very first note that the song was a good choice gauging from the audience’s reaction, but I guess you can’t go wrong with such a classic. It was with this track that they ‘ended’ their show and exited off of the stage.
Following their departure, it was not long before the audience began to crave more Feeder. After a brief discussion with the 40-something-year-old gentleman beside me, which involved him giving me a prickly kiss on the side of my head for being 21 and into Feeder, which was too young in his mind, he began to belt out “Dun Dun Dun Dun, Dun Dun Dun Dun” (imagine this in the tune of “Just A Day”). This created a frenzy in the front few rows with a now stronger chorus of “Dun Dun Dun Dun, Dun Dun Dun Dun” (yet again, imagine this in the tune of Just A Day). As if by magic or just sheer coincidence the singer was coaxed back in front of the crowd.
Now with acoustic guitar in hand, Grant played for us “Silent Cry” from the 2008 album of the same name. I cannot thank Grant enough for adding this to the jam-packed setlist as Silent Cry, in my humble opinion, is a record that is lesser known amongst the fans and is often sadly overlooked during their live performances but is one I have a special place for in my heart. It is an album that shows a different dynamic, an almost more mature sound than their previous work and shows the start of a progression towards the sounds behind Generation Freakshow and All Bright Electric. Although it might not contain any chart-topping hits or any cult classics idolised by thousands, it is an album I have no trouble listening to in its entirety and one I have grown rather fond of over the last few years.
A few more tracks in which were a bit of a blur mainly caused by an attempt to jostle for position with a line pushing fiend who each time returned with more alcohol and less regard for the people he was slinking in front of, it was time for “Yesterday Went Too Soon”; a song I have a lot of memories attached to and one of my personal favourites. It was at that point came a minor blip with the band’s performance. You could see the annoyance given off in Grant’s face, a few chords into the song the old legacy Fender Jaguar coughed. After a few minutes of Grant and guitar technician Flea fiddling with both the guitar and pedalboard, doing the old-fashioned ‘pull the lead out and put it back in’, the elderly guitar chimed back to life. The musician although perhaps initially flustered was not fazed by the malfunction and in fact joked to the crowd that it’s more interesting to tell everyone that you went to a gig where everything broke down.
It was with the last song that the band finally gave in to public demand and played “Dun Dun Dun Dun, Dun Dun Dun Dun”, putting the expecting crowd out of their misery. Before my eyes, I witnessed a mass transformation as all the tired legs, and sweaty bodies found their second wind, a brand new lease of life and sprang into action with invigoration and enthusiasm. I don’t remember much of the song, and it was over before I knew it but what I do remember was a frantic sea of commotion as masses of human flesh were flung around Limelight in response to the timeless classic. It really is a true testament to the band and an insightful window into their success and influence that songs like “Just A Day” or “Buck Rogers” can inspire such an energy amongst the fans, especially those that are getting on in years. After that, it was time for the band to bring things to a close, taking a bow for the applauding crowd, scattering a guitar pick here and there onto the floor, and Grant iconically lifting his guitar as far into the sky as his arm would physically allow. I waited for the crowd of satisfied listeners to thin out before purchasing my surprisingly comfortable Feeder hoodie after which I stepped out into the Belfast streets contemplating the spectacle I had seen, still “High” from the experience.